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Social Media Trends for 2011

At the MPA Digital: Social Media conference in New York on Wednesday, trend watchers offered predictions for 2011 and publishing executives discussed how they
are responding.

Debra Aho Williamson, social media principal analyst at eMarketer, outlined key trends to watch for this year based on the firm’s data and other sources. While many of these trends represent continuations of patterns already observed in 2010, they provide a reference in terms of how far social media has evolved in the past few years. They also offer clues regarding the audience, where to reach them, and their motivations.


Consumer use of social media is still rising: From December 2008 through May 2010, every age group increased its usage of social media. Boomers have experienced the most striking increase, from nine percent to 43 percent. Social media’s potential is strong as it has not yet reached a saturation point.

Prevalent use of social media by marketers: In 2011, 80 percent of marketers will use social media, and that is expected to rise to 88 percent by 2012. Back in 2008, only 42 percent were doing so. This growth has largely been driven by higher usage worldwide and the ongoing growth of Facebook.

Social media’s integration into all aspects of marketing: As marketers become more experienced with social media, they realize the need to incorporate it with their other initiatives. Williamson observed that rolling the social media function into existing departments is a more typical approach.

Social media’s growing share of marketing budgets: In 2010, 83 percent of marketers reported plans to increase their social media spending. Williamson noted that this often comes at the expense of traditional advertising budgets.

Location is more than checking in: While 33.2 million people currently use location based services, up from 12.3 million in 2009, this still represents fairly limited usage. According to Williamson’s data, usage is motivated more by the desire for deals and promotions than the urge to share one’s location.

End of top-down media websites: As content is being distributed across platforms, there has been less of a focus on driving traffic to a single site. Williamson said other tools such as Flipboard on the iPad have become effective ways to personalize media brands.

Conference panelists, including Steven Schwartz, chief digital officer at Wenner Media, confirmed the trend away from websites to social media platforms. Many initiatives now are exclusively accessible to their social media communities and are not offered on their company or brand websites.

[Image via Flipboard.com]

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