Mathias Bergendahl's Marketing Blog

My Prediction for 2010: A Changed Approach to Social Media

Call it a forecast, or maybe even wishful thinking, but my prediction for 2010 is that we’ll see a changed approach on how we engage on social media platforms. In 2010, I believe social media will further transform into a vital part of a strategic marketing mix rather than the often casual yet very frequent posting of Facebook updates and Tweets.

2009 marked a tremendous growth for the most popular social media platforms. The number of Facebook subscribers grew to numbers equaling the population of some of the largest nations in the world. The word follower took on a new meaning as Twitter became virtually a must-have communications tool for many. During the year we noticed the absolutely incredible impact of YouTube. Consider how Susan Boyle reached stardom across the globe in spite of the fact that the television show she appeared on was broadcast only in the UK. United Airlines learned the hard way how YouTube can turn into a powerful place to air complaints – a music video called United Breaks Guitars was living proof of that. When Facebook announced upcoming changes to its network subscribers were quick to respond – so powerfully that in end the company had to reverse their plans. As soon as we had purchased a product or used a service we’d go online to announce to everyone whether we liked it or not – and consumer testimonials far outweighed how much we would listen to editorial reviews. Consider this: would you go to see a movie if the newspaper’s review was glowing yet all your Facebook friends told you how bad it was? In 2009, our curiosity and excitement took over and we eagerly monitored Tweets from our friends, shared farm animals and equipment with each other (some even went home from work to harvest a crop of corn or let the cows out), and many didn’t even mind sharing the color of a particular undergarment.

However, during the year I also received many emails from brokers and Realtors® who ecstatically told stories about how they had reestablished lost connections with past clients through their blog. Others shared how they had received leads, later turned into clients, through LinkedIn and Facebook.

Here is my forecast of what 2010 will bring:

1. A Growing Perception of “It Doesn’t Work”

My prediction is that many who engaged on social media platforms in 2009 will make the decision to abandon their efforts this year. Rather than assessing what might have been the cause for their lack of results, many may simply say “I tried it for more than a year, and I got nothing out of it.”

In a way it’s understandable. Social media marketing isn’t a sprint but rather a marathon, and it’s easy to get discouraged when ongoing efforts aren’t immediately returning measurable results. Sure, there can be instant successes, but most likely they will come over time. Rather than give up I hope those who may question whether to continue or not will read articles on how to best use social media as part of a marketing plan, take classes, and look at what those who are successful are doing before they turn off their accounts. More importantly, I hope they will assess how their messages come across and the value they provide. They should first analyze whether they’re effectively working to build their networks and consider asking others for advice.

2. A Move From Do-It-Yourself to Hiring Professional Help

I believe business owners and managers will recognize that to use social media platforms effectively they will need the assistance of a marketing professional. Many will probably find that it isn’t easy to consistently come up with creative content of value to their readers, and many more will probably realize that writing isn’t their strength or passion.

Most will recognize that they should focus their efforts on what they do best and seek help for those things they may not have the desire to do themselves.  Just as companies hire an agency to assist with the creation of ads and flyers, an increasing number of business owners will hire someone to write blog posts and manage their online presence of website and social media networks as part of a strategic marketing plan.

3. From Message-Focused Activities to a Strategic Approach

As Realtors® and other professionals joined Facebook the overwhelming majority seemed to focus their efforts on writing short messages rather than substantial content with valuable information to those they are connected with. I overheard many who shared their approach as “I must post something new on my Facebook wall every day to get attention,” which in my opinion equated to little more than spam messages. For 2010 I predict, and certainly hope, the majority of professionals will focus on quality over quantity.

In the social media marketing program I teach I share my conviction that every Tweet should include a link. In my opinion it’s simply not possible to provide valuable information in a message limited to 140 characters. That’s one of the primary reasons I suggest integrating your networks and syndicating messages from your blog to other platforms.

4. The Return of the Inner Monologue

Mid-way through 2009 our webmaster quipped “we have lost our inner monologue!” I found his description a great way to describe how the most mundane things happening in our daily lives all of a sudden became important to share.

Consider the following scenario. Your car is covered with frost from last night’s freeze and as you try to open your car door you realize it’s frozen. The first order of business used to be to fill a bag with warm water and hold it against the lock. These days, though, many reach for their Blackberry to announce to all their followers “I can’t open my car door.” My prediction for 2010 is that we’ll consider such messages as boring as all those forwarded jokes we used to delete at the dawn of email use now almost fifteen years ago.

5. Less is More: Concentration of Efforts

I believe that in 2010 we’ll be more mindful of where we put our efforts. Rather than being on eight social media networks many will pick a few on which they’ll focus their efforts. I believe we’ll start seeing more solutions that will enable us to work more effectively – here is an article I wrote last year about syndication of messages.

6. From Social to Sociable

Over the course of last year I became increasingly eager to remove the word social from social media. As I monitored the use of Facebook and Twitter it often struck me how very personal matters would be discussed. Personal messages would be posted on someone’s Facebook wall rather than sent through a more private email or text message – available for the world to see. Unfortunately, stories about how many lost their jobs and others their credibility were plentiful. My prediction is that once we’ve gotten over the first wave of being introduced to social media networks we’ll start seeing a more mindful and careful approach without giving up being sociable. There’s a huge difference.

While blogs and Facebook have been used for a few years, 2009 was the year when social media became a mainstream concept and something virtually every business professional recognized they should engage in. 2010, I predict we’ll see an overwhelming change in how we connect, and the content we share.

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