This year, many great advancements in how we communicate and use services online occurred. Some could say it’s more of the same, others could say 2010 proved to be a great year for social media. Here is a recap of how social media fared in 2010.
Given how fast these events occur, it’s a good idea to acknowledge what took place this year in social media. In no particular order, here are my observations.
- Businesses more liberally adopted and explored social media.
If 2009 was the year of the social media curmudgeons, then 2010 was the year the naysayers lost. Social media has become a standard order of business if they wish to grow their brand. In light of that, a lot of discovery took place this year – many (including myself) have experimented with different types of content across many different mediums. The good part about this was for those who experimented, they gained experience with sticky content and how to engage customers. Although, this also yielded an opportunity where the results haven’t been mind-blowing, yet it can prove itself through scalability and consistency during 2011.
- Social media has proven itself to be high value to many businesses and entrepreneurs.
There is case study after case study of businesses solving real-world problems through social media. Call it exploration, it still doesn’t negate the fact social media is a powerful medium for validation and keeping customers loyal and tuned-in to a brand’s message.
- Twitter matured their service to accommodate more media and users.
Just when Twitter was about to become merely a platform and not the application, they updated their interface to offer much more features for users. This is good as traffic from outside apps can’t be easily tracked, it can prove valuable for publishers when more people use the web interface of Twitter. At the same time, it’s good to note that Twitter has experienced far fewer fail-whales during 2010 than previous years – and this shows the company and the technology has matured.
- Location Based Services continue to grow, but slowly.
Foursquare reigns to be the dominant leader here for people to share what they’re doing with context to a specific location. However, limited engagement is a risk for the platform. This risk also translates to opportunity for new location based services to grow and deliver better ways for customers to interact with a business and vice-versa.
- Facebook Pages has risen in awareness, use and interaction.
During 2010, Facebook Pages have always been a gamble to a business. Just like me at the Craps table, some of them never know what their getting into. Through proper exploring, experimenting and promotion, their Facebook Pages have become a strong asset for business owners. Recently, Facebook updated their ‘Insights” (metrics), and thus a publisher can better learn from their audience what content their fans like and don’t like. Expect more growth here during 2011.
- Online video has greatly improved and more support for HD.
Prior to YouTube, the only decently-affordable, quality video hosting service was Vimeo that would support HD. Not anymore. YouTube natively supports HD content and they transcode it much faster than they did earlier in the year. The result of this shows that video will mature and be a more pleasant, engaging and attractive medium for businesses to produce quality content for their audience.
- WordPress continues to lead as the blog platform of choice.
TypePad and Blogger platforms continue to decline as more users defect over to WordPress for their blogging platform. Plugins and theme frameworks make WordPress attractive to designers and easy to run for businesses who need to publish content to their website.
- Apple’s iPad has given more legitimacy to tablets as a computing device.
I admit that I initially scoffed at the idea of the iPad once it launched, but doesn’t mean it didn’t bring legitimacy to the desire for tablet computing devices. As smartphones mature, the iPad delivers just about everything from an iPod Touch to a larger screen with many more apps designed viewing on a tablet. Expect more magazine and more complex social apps to grow here during 2011.
- Apple’s Ping social network is an abysmal failure.
When Apple announced it would build a social network for music, the industry was curious what they had up their sleeves. What they delivered was sub-par of any social media app launch, ever. Virtually no one uses it and the artists (and their publicists) themselves seem to enjoy Twitter versus Ping. That should tell you sometimes.
- Social commerce is about to explode.
Despite Ping’s failure in their launch, it does have Twitter integration to let users share song purchases with their friends. Zappos and many other retails are making use of the social graph to measure and promote actions via Facebook. The market is ripe for opportunity to leverage people’s social networks to share deals and promotions for brands. No one has quite nailed this yet, but it’s ripe for 2011.
- Community managers have to up their game.
2010 proved to community managers – myself included – that far more strategy is necessary to be successful. No longer will just using a platform earn you street cred – driving results and solving problems does. In general, community managers have more or less proven themselves to act in a leadership role even if they don’t get the title for it. 2011 is the year to shine for community managers within their organizations when they bring home the bacon and take leadership of driving social initiatives in their companies.
- Blogging activity decreases in light of Twitter’s growth.
Sharing ideas is easier than ever. I can communicate a complete thought through just 140 characters. In light of this, I’ve noticed that fewer people choose to blog. This has resulted in two things – publishers are dominating by focusing on their blog and more people’s blogs are becoming stale. The opportunity for 2011 is to get more active and value blogging as a means to share stories, not just off-the-cuff thoughts.
- Increased focus to measure social activity and actions.
Again, there’s nothing wrong with exploring, but 2010 has proven to be the place to experiment with what social metrics matter for business. We’ve learned that more followers do not translate into more sales. We’ve more or less fine-tuned the social metrics to align with business metrics and I expect this to continue to rise during 2011. (And again, it’s not that social media necessarily has top-line metrics, but it’s metrics will/has become much more meaningful to executives alike. )
- Consumers are more empowered than ever.
This continues to rise from 2008, but there are literally no barriers between a pissed off consumer and a bad business. Likewise businesses have adapted to leverage raving fan customers into their sales and marketing processes. More people have acknowledged that social media is the direct path to escalation with a company and similarly more business have staff and processes to accommodate this. Sadly, I expect this to become more of a commodity than genuinely handled by caring staff during 2011, but there’s even more opportunity to grow here.
- Privacy woes haven’t been fully resolved; regulatory action mounts.
While Facebook deployed a refined way to manage privacy, their recent interface layout makes the information people have in their profile much more prominent … and this irks some people out. Likewise, the behavioral targeting matter is only getting more complex as the FTC is about to step in and drop the banhammer on shady data collection and targeting practices. Expect more discussion and debate during 2011 on privacy as it becomes more fleeced away from innocent web users.
- Powerful social media tools and apps are accessible to small businesses.
Finally, 2010 delivered an array of tools and services to make managing social media easier and ExactTarget’s acquisition of CoTweet only validated social media management suites. Hootsuite monetized through a freemium model and it’s cheap for a one-man shop to leverage their app and yet affordable for smaller businesses. These apps and services make it easier to manage an array of social networks for small businesses.
That’s my recap of 2010. Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments.
[Image credit: ethanhein]