The Trend Forecast: 2011

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It’s February, and that means that most (if not all) social media experts have already released their predictions for the social media landscape of 2011. Social media is an interesting field in that the rapidly changing dynamic is truly what defines it; without the quick turnover and fast-paced edits we’ve grown accustomed to, social media would become stagnant.

True to form, 2011 is expected to feature some big changes and some powerful emerging trends. Since almost everyone in the blogosphere has released their version of 2011’s Emerging Trends, we thought we’d make it easy and act as a filter, picking the best ones and summing them up.

Expansion: This is a given, but the companies that pioneered corporate use of social media are bound to integrate social media further into their business plans. It’s not exactly breaking news, but expect to see large companies like Starbucks taking social media to the forefront of their business plans, especially in terms of global marketing.

Location-Based Services: Foursquare’s major appeal in 2010 was based on its ability to produce interactions with people and places on the go. In 2011, Facebook is positioned to take location-based services one step further, with advanced data and planning that will make the application not only fun, but business-savvy. Expect Facebook to surpass other social networks, including Foursquare, when it comes to location-based services.

Social Media Overload: Social media experts, who use their networks for work-related activity and on a constant, daily basis, are already used to the overload that comes with owning and using multiple profiles. 2011 may bring this phenomenon onto “regular” social media users, who will feel overwhelmed by the availability of so many networks. To tweet or to Facebook or to maintain your gchat contacts or build a Foursquare profile? Incidentally, this excess should bring about a positive change: More platforms like Hootsuite will be developed, in order to provide users with an integrated and simplified social graph. 2011 will be the year of social media organization.

Google Returns to the Top: Okay, so Google wasn’t really able to succeed in creating their own network- take a look at Buzz, for example . Google’s skill lays in indexing, and already, Google’s algorithm has become smarter about Twitter data than…Twitter itself. Search for old tweets in Google just by typing in a few words, and you’ll be able to locate old gems. Ultimately, Google should be able to take advantage of the social web by indexing any and all social data they can get their hands on.

The Informed Consumer: Mobile devices and social networks are joining together to make the consumer more powerful than ever. With access to discounts, coupons and targeted offers at all hours of the day, consumers can make more informed decisions. The ability to compare and contrast different brands even at the point of purchase, whether during online shopping or even at the cashier in the store, will force retailers to step it up. Expect to see more instant mobile coupons, online group discounts, and flash sales.

Integration: In 2011, technologies like mobile, geo-location, RFID, tablets, and Internet-enabled appliances will allow for sharper communication and a merging of experiences. Already, GoogleTV and Samsung are bringing internet apps to television. Department stores are experimenting with the virtual shopping experience; recently, Macy’s launched a dressing room experience that lets shoppers find clothes on an iPad and then try them on virtually. The shopper can even ask for feedback from their friends and family in real-time and check out the view using an augmented-reality mirror. By texting, e-mailing, and using other social networks, the consumer will be able to experience what mimics, and even surpasses, an in-store shopping experience. TMI meets virtual shopping- what could go wrong?

Ultimately, 2011’s success will be determined by just how far these emerging trends are developed, and just how these developments flourish. It comes down to usability, which is what social media is based on anyway. It will be an exciting year in the world of social media, for sure.

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  • Jenny, Bloggess

    Social media overload…amen. That trend is looming large right now.

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