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01/03/2011 One Prediction for 2011: Lots of hard work ahead

The social juggernaut kept gaining speed in 2010. Most everyone who paid attention in 2009 started implementing social plans. Even some of the biggest verticals of digital laggards embraced the promise social marketing as a low cost, high touch communications tool. What then, can we expect in 2011?

I think this year is when we all have to do more of the hard stuff. Launching social initiatives was the easy part, in retrospect. Putting together a Facebook page, a Twitter feed and a blog and an editorial calendar, the social tools of choice for a majority of organizations, were important and necessary steps. Unfortunately, they’re not enough.

In 2011, more groups will start examining more carefully the return on these initiatives. They’ll look at employee resources as much as outside costs in determining how or if they should continue.  The work, for those groups and those of us who market socially, is to shift the focus from easy metrics like Followers and Likes to clear goals connected to the business itself. And that is the hardest work marketers can do. 

It’s a slow slog to integrate social into your core business. It’s much less glamorous then ad campaigns or launching a Facebook app. It takes a lot of time, conversation, idea development and internal buy in. In short, it's the heavy lifting.

Should we even bother? As much as we all love social media, the reality is that the data shows that social works.  A recent study by ForeSee Results seemed to downplay the effectiveness of social media at driving holiday shopping, but a closer look showed that Search, the digital marketing behemoth, drove 8% of holiday Web visits compared to 5% for social media.

Compare the money spent on search marketing to the money spent on social media and a different picture emerges, one that speaks to the power and promise of social. Yet to spur the shift in dollars, we’ll need to go beyond Tweet schedules and blog posts.

We’ll need to work our butts off to truly integrate social into the core business.

And we’ll see a lot more of that (successful) hard work in 2011.



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