20 Social Media Trends for Business in 2011

One of the great things about working in the digital space right now is observing the many changes constantly occurring. This week, I had an opportunity to pull together some of the key social media trends I’m seeing for a presentation at an event in Waterloo.

Some of these trends are existing and ongoing; others are new. Some are practical; others are theoretical. Some are almost guaranteed; others may amount to momentary blips. Some ideas come from my head; others were curated by my colleagues Steve Rubel and David Armano.

Hopefully one or two of them will spark ideas for you.

I grouped the trends into five themes:

  1. Silo-busting
    • Trend #1: Integration
    • Trend #2: Social customer support
    • Trend #3: Social impact drives reputation
  2. Maturation of social media
    • Trend #4: Death of the campaign
    • Trend #5: Consolidation
    • Trend #6: “Influence” matures
    • Trend #7: Democratization of voice
    • Trend #8: Return of websites
  3. Rise of the ‘less shiny object’
    • Trend #9: Digitally driven crises
    • Trend #10: Digital curation
    • Trend #11: Strategic search
    • Trend #12: Community management
    • Trend #13: Developer engagement
    • Trend #14: Measurement matures
    • Trend #15: Rise of the content strategist
  4. Communication accelerates
    • Trend #16: Listening becomes mandatory
    • Trend #17: Marketing in streams
    • Trend #18: Social media overload
  5. Ubiquitous mobile
    • Trend #19: Ubiquitous social
    • Trend #20: Location, location, Facebook

Bet you could add to this list. What do you think I’ve missed?

Robb Sands
Robb Sands

I'm seeing a polarization, and widening gap, of brands who are grouping into social: leaders, followers and outcasts. The leaders, obviously are continuing to embrace, deploy and assign resources to leveraging social for their brand gain. Followers know they need to be doing something, aren't sure what, and are testing the waters with various approaches seen to be employed by leaders. Outcasts are largely the High Street, bricks and mortar, can't compete on price, type of brands who have marketing managers dedicated to wining and dining the regional press for column inches, traditional media spends and who can't imagine re-tooling, because their traditional model just doesn't fit with the new way of doing things. Just as the 35mm film industry became dinosaurs overnight, with some adapting and others going the way of the T-Rex, so to many High Street retailers are digging in, taking their last gasps of profit-breath as their more agile competitors dash into the modern age. Not sure where this fits in trend diagram, but the widening social deployment gap seemed worth a brief rant.


Tools are only one piece of the broader puzzle, and they won't solve anything on their own. Strategy is much more important.

Nick Stamoulis
Nick Stamoulis

Great presentation. Integrating marketing messages across all platforms is important. The message should be clear and consistent, no matter where you are getting it from. A Facebook page, a blog, and a website should all have the same look, feel, and vibe.

Alisha Andre
Alisha Andre

this is very informative post Dave.... as we all know social media plays a big role in today's business world and it's very important to use them in a right manner. and like your points like "maturation of social media" and "communication accelerates" the most.


Nice thoughts Dave. Although "Trend #8: Return of websites" - if you abandoned building equity in your domain and accruing links, content, social/search authority - you don't get the web. If that is a trend for you, you're just chasing shiny objects but not building equity. Srsly - abandoning your website (if you ever did that) was a silly play and just allowed others to eat a free lunch in the SERPs. The open web is not going away anytime soon.


Great session yesterday at the Social Media breakfast in Waterloo -- thanks for making the venture out our way. Much to chew on and take away; thanks! On a related note, wanted to mention that I've taken up your challenge and have given myself a list of 26 books to read this year. Of course, the first one does have 1041 pages so I may have to fit in more than 10 pages a day! :-) Good luck with your list this year -- will look forward to your commentary on your reads. Cheers,


Thanks for the input, Robb - so you're seeing the polarization around attitudes towards social as much as anything else?

Sarah Kiriliuk
Sarah Kiriliuk

Touche! You're right....tools only help to implement a great strategy.


Completely agreed, Adam. I think a lot of advice over the last little while - relating to social media, anyway - was to "fish where the fish are." That's a valid point, but not at the expense of your owned properties. What we're seeing now is an expansion of social functionality on company sites beyond blogs and embedded content, and towards integration of the social graph. Thanks for stopping by!


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