Commentary

Businesses Get Serious About Social In '11

Social media reached an inflection point in 2010, with the volume and speed of social conversations reaching unprecedented levels -- and showing no signs of abating. More enterprises embraced the business value of social media, coming to view it as Social Intelligence and a necessary competitive tool.

We also saw many well-known brands -- from FedEx to Pepsi -- working hard to make a meaningful impact in the social sphere, and find ways to connect with their customers on a one-to-one level never before possible. And this shift in attitude toward social media by many businesses led to increased demand for serious analytics to enable informed decision-making.

In addition, we witnessed a growing trend toward consolidation in the space, another sign the social media industry is maturing. Attensity purchased Biz360, Lithium Technologies acquired Scout Labs, and MarketWire purchased Sysomos -- just to name a few key deals from 2010.

As we enter 2011, we can expect to see a continuation of merger and acquisition activity, and within a short time, smaller competitors will no longer dominate the industry. More importantly, within the next 12 months, we will move beyond the inflection point and to a defining moment when social media comes of age. Social media is poised to go mainstream -- and very soon it will be recognized, and accepted, as a meaningful communications channel and strategic business tool by all major businesses. Twenty eleven will be the year for businesses to meet their customers where they converse, make purchasing decisions, and recommend products and brands to others they trust, and who trust them.

As part of this transition toward adopting social media as a core business strategy, we'll see Global 2000 companies fully embracing tweeting and posting, understanding that moving forward this is how they must meet and interact with customers not just listen. They also will realize -- with relief -- that they longer need to spend billions to direct customers to other channels and instead, can use their resources more strategically. There will be more collaboration and integration with partners and agencies with the sharing of learning's, processes and customer data. This includes fully integrating social media with traditional sources of data such as CRM, as well as from the brick-and-mortar channel.

With more emphasis on integrating intelligence and learning's we will also see increased investment on predictive analytics, businesses not only can learn what a customer is doing right now in the social sphere, but also anticipate where he or she is going. This deep insight will help enterprises shorten the time required to foster brand affinity -- when a consumer makes a powerful, emotional connection with a brand. Brand affinity, in turn, can help to accelerate consumer loyalty, thereby making the process less expensive and time-consuming for businesses.

Social media is still evolving in many ways, but the inflection point of 2010 signifies a point of no return: Enterprises no longer can view social media as a "someday" pursuit or something simply to dabble in -- instead, it is a critical business strategy to pursue starting now. And in 2011, the social channel will be where business and consumer will finally meet as equals -- and not as brand and customer. This, more than anything, is what will compel all major businesses to finally get serious about getting social.

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1 comment about "Businesses Get Serious About Social In '11 ".
  1. Antonel Neculai from Style Strand Media , December 22, 2010 at 10:27 p.m.

    I am curious about how fast small businesses will jump on this bandwagon. Will big, consolidated social media service providers be able to provide affordable services to small businesses? Or should smb's rely more on small agencies and small social media business intelligence providers?