2010 was another banner year for social media. Some sites grew even more quickly than they had in 2009, which will forever be known as the year that social media exploded. Facebook surpassed 500 million unique users. Twitter users nearly doubled, going from over 75 million in 2009 to nearly 150 million in 2010. LinkedIn, WordPress and Tumblr are just a few of the other major sites that also saw exponential growth.
With all the growth in social media over the past two years, people are left wondering what could possibly be next? We’ve scoured the web to see what experts are saying about what to look for in 2011.
1. Social media goes mobile.
Mobile technology is positioned to be one of the biggest drivers of social media in 2011, and affects a number of the other trends listed below. It is estimated that half of mobile users in the United States will have smartphones by the fourth quarter of 2011. Use of smartphones will enable social media users to share more content in real time. From a financial perspective, the advertising potential alone is conservatively valued at $50 billion.
2. Social media becomes more visual.
More mobile social media means more content in real time. If the recent launch of the new Facebook profile is any indication of what is to come, video and photo content will be front and center of the social media platforms in 2011. YouTube is already the second most popular search engine behind Google, and in terms of SEO, posts with video, photographic or other media content consistently place at the top of most searches. It makes sense that more social media sites will try to focus on photos to grab attention.
3. Location based marketing (and geotagging) takes off.
Facebook is set to roll out their response to Foursquare and Gowalla in the early part of 2011. As Facebook recently surpassed Google as the most visited daily site, no small feat considering one is a search engine and the other is a social network, the implications for the popularity of geotagging, and therefore location based marketing, is huge.
4. Facebook will continue to dominate while other giants flounder.
No matter how hard they try, Google just can’t cut it when it comes to social media. The search engine giant has tried to ease into social media by purchasing sites like Digg, but then has left them to flounder with little or no development. They’ll next try to break onto the scene with Google ME, but competing with an established 500 million network won’t be easy. Yahoo made news recently not only by cutting their status update program known as Buzz, but also because they will likely be parting ways with Delicious, another social bookmarking service.
5. Integration is key.
These days, it’s easy to belong to so many social networks and social bookmarking sites that users (and marketers) can get a little bit lost. The availability of buttons and widgets will make it much easier for both users and web developers to manage that content, ultimately bringing social media back into corporate and individual websites. Personal websites may once again become home base, or at least a more frequent stop, for online interaction between businesses and customers.
6. Social media means money.
Some people flock to Facebook to network, others go for the games. Virtual game company Zynga has been offering popular games such as Mafia Wars and Farmville on Facebook for free. In the past year, the two have teamed up to create Facebook credits, which can be used to buy extra supplies and free turns. Some estimates put Zynga’s revenue at $240 million before Facebook credits. New numbers put Zynga’s revenue at about $50 million per month. Twitter is also jumping on the monetization bandwagon, recently rolling out promoted tweets.
These are just a few of the trends we expect to see in 2011. Keep checking Green Marketing TV for the latest in what’s next in social media and the tips, tricks and tools to help you and your green business make the most of them.