What Is Ahead For Online Marketers In 2011: Social Media Marketing

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The upcoming year is bound to be one that is full of challenges and opportunities for online marketers. To help our readers navigate throughout these treacherous waters, we asked some of our most popular contributors for their thoughts on what will be ahead throughout 2011 in a variety of different arenas — SEO, PPC, Conversion, Local Search, Email Marketing, and Social Media. Each week for the last six weeks, we have been presenting their thoughts on one of each of those fields to help you get off on the right foot in the new year. This is the last of our series, and covers Social Media Marketing (previous weeks can be access via the links above for each of the topics).

As we head into 2011, what will be important to learn and do with social media marketing?

Andrew Bernero of Relevancy Media — “Make sure that your ads are both targeted and interesting. Problems with limited impression share and rising bid costs similar to running ads with a bad Google Quality Scores are often experienced by new social marketers when their ads are not initially optimized and targeted.”

Bill Slawski of SEOByTheSea – “The main keys to social networking are engaging an audience and building relationships with them. If you use social media only as a broadcast medium, you’re missing serious opportunities.”

Charles Nicholls of SeeWhy — “Will brands build ecommerce capabilities into their Facebook sites (our survey data says most wont but will drive traffic to their ecommerce site, but there have been some recent high profile exceptions)? How can brands build closer integration between their Facebook site and ecommerce site? Think Facebook social plugins, especially Facebook Login and Recommendations.”

Guy Hill of DroidINDUSTRIES — “MySpace is dead. Nobody talks about “social bookmarking” anymore. Facebook is a massive chat-environment (ask any veteran online marketer how hungry they are to market on chat sites… they’re not).  All things considered, “social” media has been more of a distraction than a profit center. I would leave strategy here to folks that want to champion these ideas, but I would push for some sober thinking in terms of ROI and direct-response. If you get less than 10% of revenue from social media, it should get less than 10% of your time. If you’re still letting the “social” conversation suck all the air out of the room, you’re doing yourself a disservice.

Lastly… a Facebook page is a sad substitute for your website. Facebook doesn’t allow you to control how you present info… you have to do it their way. You can’t format, highlight, etc. As a social directory, it’s obviously brilliant. As a business directory… not so much. I have serious doubts that Facebook has much value to the B2B community.  Facebook/Twitter should be “echoes” of traditional web communication, not the lead. Solid websites, solid email communications, thoughtful messaging… and then echoes via Facebook/Twitter.

Facebook/Twitter offer more distractions than opportunities for meaningful messaging. Twitter has become a huge vulnerability, as business are attacked as often as they’re applauded in that space. Outside of entertainment business and companies with heavy and pop consumer appeal, beware. Marketers have wasted a fortune of time/resources on ineffective, knee-jerk, me-too social efforts. Just because you have “1000 friends!” doesn’t mean you’re doing business.

Sales folks can use social media for personal introductions into deeper conversations. LinkedIn and Facebook can serve to drive introductions. However, due to the chatty nature of social media, this is a high-distraction atmosphere.  The phone/email will still be essential to closing deals. Marketers should solidify traditional communication channels, and then spend remaining resources on noisy/trendy/social opportunities.  That’s my take.”

Hallie Janssen of Anvil Media, Inc. — “In 2011, it will be important for advertisers to solidify and optimize their strategies on social networking sites Twitter and Facebook while developing plans and testing for location-based services and marketing within mobile applications. Marketers are becoming more sophisticated in their uses of Facebook and Twitter and should hone their strategies through ad testing, landing tab optimization, and tracking social media sales. Furthermore, marketers need to be aware of the impact of the encroaching smartphone and tablet market. More and more consumers will be getting their information from mobile devices and utilizing apps created for those devices. Advertisers need to understand how to reach their target audience within these devices.”

Jaimie Sirovich of SEOEgghead — “Much of the energy surrounding SM is hype, and most attempts to leverage it will fail. It should just one of many weapons in an SEM portfolio, and there are trustier vectors to invest in.”

Magnus Nilsson of BraveNewMe — “Things that worked in 2010 are not necessarily allowed in 2011. Facebook is highly protective of its brand and user experience, and we’ve recently seen changes in how marketers can use competitions to generate likes and followers. And as always, the second part of achieving a following is to understand how to leverage it for monetization or achieve other marketing objectives.”

Patrick Hare of Web.com Search Agency — “At minimum, a site should have prominent links to its Facebook and Twitter pages. It is also essential to monitor your own Facebook/Twitter comments and use third party services to automatically check for negative comments made about your company on these services. Many PR nightmares can be avoided by following up with a complaint quickly.  Secondarily, in-game advertising as a paid marketing channel will continue to grow as Facebook games and playable apps look to monetize the eyeballs of their players. For many social media channels, it is already possible to get game credits for watching an ad or taking an action, which is a win-win for the advertiser and game player.”

David Rodnitzky of PPC Associates “We need to figure out whether social media is a demand creation, demand fulfillment, or hybrid marketing medium. A lot of marketers have expressed dissatisfaction with Facebook PPC, for example, because the ROI is lower than AdWords. Those same advertisers, however, might be overjoyed if they measured the lift of Facebook PPC vis-a-vis another brand marketing channel. Attributing value correctly to social media will be a major initiative for many advertisers in 2011.”

Tim Ash of SiteTuners.com — “Everyone is a “social media guru” these days. However, the power of social media will actually be best harnessed by those who use objective analytics information to monitor and track the effectiveness of their activities. Developing a set of standard metrics for social media measurement will be key.”

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Thanks again to all those who contributed to this series!

About the Author

Frances Krug has worked in market research since graduating from UCLA with an MA and CPhil in Latin American history. As an editor and online content provider for the last 7 years, she currently is Associate Editor at iNET Interactive, where she also directs Search Marketing Standard's email marketing program.

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  1. Good post Frances, interesting to read everyone's opinion. I would have to agree with Tim Ash on this one though. I'm a firm believer in numbers, numbers don't lie and clients are only interested in numbers. Everything else will have to change according to the numbers.