Social Media in 2011: 4 trends to watch

The ThinkerSocial media made some great leaps in 2010: Facebook reached 500 million users, Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga battled for most viewed videos on YouTube, and the Gulf oil Spill was the highest ranked trending topic on TwitterWe even saw a big-budget Hollywood Blockbuster bring home almost $100 million, telling the story about the controversial beginnings of Facebook.

As exciting as the past year has been, 2011 will undoubtedly continue to build on the social media movement as we connect with companies, colleagues, and friends. Here are my thoughts on what to look for in social media over the next 365.

Continued and rapid monetization: Especially with third-party apps and clients designed to help users interact with their social networks. Advertising, data mining, and promoted tweets are the current answer to the question “how do we make money out of this?” With continued “upgrades” and new features added, users are prompted for more personal information. At the same time, advertising and fee structures are being implemented for use of some social networks ot the tools we use to access them. The common user will not see much of a difference, but organizations can expect to begin to pay for previously free services.

Community buying boom: Expect more deals, not necessarily better deals in 2011. We’ve all heard of the community buying giant Groupon, mostly due to the recent interest Google has paid to it causing the estimated value of Groupon to reach over $4 Billion. Don’t expect the interest to calm down in 2011. Groupon will continue to be number one, but several other services have, and will, continue to sprout up to challenge for market share; a few to watch:

Geo-tagging networks popularity: This is a controversial one, but I believe 2011 will be the year users and businesses really get to know these tools and harness the social power of geo-tagging games/services.  Increased integration with existing networks (Facebook Places) helps users see the social value of these location-based services. Businesses will continue to integrate geo-tagging into sales and awareness campaigns. Some businesses are offering deals to the “Mayors” of their shops, but most are reaping the simple value of awareness. Aside: I recently tried a sushi place I learned about through Foursquare without being offered a deal, just a recommendation. It’s more than just Foursquare and Facebook Places. Others are already getting into geo-tagging:

Interest in “International” networks: By nature, all social media is international, but all social media is not necessarily popular on an international level. Businesses around the world will look to Social Media networks that have taken hold in other countries to connect with potential customers.  Opportunities exist in some of the world’s largest populations.  In China, QQ is the most popular IM tool; and 90% of the worldwide traffic to YouKu.com comes from China. Orkut (by Google) is very popular in Brazil and India, making up 70% of the worldwide user base combined. Check out this great post for more examples and details on international social media opportunities.

Final thoughts: 2011 is poised to be another great year for social media. Everyday, more and more users signup and engage. More users + more conversations = positive Social Media outlook. Signup, engage, and enjoy 2011.

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