Marketers will need to start justifying social marketing plans with business cases, objectives and metrics, as the medium moves out of the test phase. In 2009, marketers could brag they had a Facebook fan page or Twitter account, but analysts predict that social media will become a strategic part of marketing efforts next year.
Forrester Research released a list Monday of social computing prediction for 2010. The report suggests that companies that create social councils -- cross-functional teams aimed at sharing ideas about social media -- will begin to get serious about budgets and structure for these groups. Expect the teams to become strategists. Efforts will likely include policies.
The report also suggests that an increasing number of marketers will adopt listening platforms to monitor social media, Twitter will become more profitable or get acquired, Facebook will take a hands-on approach to protecting members, and incompatible mobile devices in siloed application will shatter the social experience.
Forrester Analyst Augie Ray says in 2010, those who hold the purse strings for budgets will want to see results. "It's the year social marketing gets serious," he says.
But rather than knowing how to set up a fan page on Facebook or gain a following on Twitter, marketers must realize that it requires more than recognizing the importance of social media.
The report also goes into detail on what marketers can do to prepare for change. It suggests the Facebook privacy settings will present problems for marketers that target people with more than one page. Companies will establish marketing rules for social media, create clear business cases and move toward a transparent marketing supply chain, so all companies involved in the process can stay informed.
Aside from supporting marketing efforts with metrics, marketers need to remain aware that a maturing market typically means companies begin to consolidate. Ray points to a few smaller social media services popping up around Twitter and Facebook that look like they won't remain independent. "We will probably see some consolidation," he says.
Forrester analysts are not the only experts to predict social media will blossom next year. MarketingSherpa believes so, too.
In the 2010 Social Media Marketing Benchmark Report from MarketingSherpa, an increase in Web site traffic ranked the No. 1 objective targeted and measured by marketers, cites eMarketer. Increase lead generation followed at No. 2; increase sales revenue, No. 3; improve search engine ranking, No. 4, and improve brand or product reputation, No. 5.
The MarketingSherpa report also notes that U.S. marketers plan to increase budgets, cites eMarketer. Retail and e-commerce marketers are more likely to increase social media marketing budgets next year, at 79%, followed by publishing and media at 63% and computer hardware and software companies at 55%.
Education and healthcare lagged, with less than one-half of marketers in the industry planning to increase social media spending next year.