It’s 2011… so start acting like it!!

It’s 2011, and so we expect big things. It’s definitely fair to say that last year saw some incredible new developments in the social media world, ranging from new sites, improved platforms & brands willing to take risks. 2011 will hopefully be another great year but its important we learn from what happened in 2010 & look to what is possible in the future.

In my opinion there are a few things that stood out from 2010 which are worth noting for this year. My top 5 observations are as follows:

  1. Brands not listening
  2. Platforms start embracing
  3. Everyone & his dog thinking they have the “ultimate solution”
  4. Those who take risks seek rewards
  5. Stop thinking big & think smart

So for my own benefit if anything else, I want to highlight why I chose these points to discuss. They might seem generic but there are key examples that back up my points.

1. Brands not listening: How many brands think it’s ok to set up pages on Facebook & feeds on Twitter without really giving them any attention. To me, it’s tragic and sad that brands go through the motions of setting up these accounts without thinking beforehand. A perfect example would be the Nestle case which has been documented more times than I care to remember. Essentially, Nestle made the tragic mistake of not really thinking about things until it was too late. There is a good summary here which helps to understand the impact of the mistake. The key lesson is that it’s so important to listen to those who take the time to write about your brand. It might not always be positive, but incidents like this really prove the value of just listening before acting.

2. Platforms start embracing. It took a long time before social networks started to embrace the fact that they needed to be more open in order to attract a wider audience, and also add greater value for a user. Perfect examples this year have been the integration between Spotify & Facebook, which to me seemed pretty obvious as a solution to Facebook users getting a top quality music service whilst still being able to share with their friends. The other big embrace was with MySpace who allowed users to sign up via their Facebook log-in and link the 2 platforms. 3 years ago, this was almost deemed criminal, but now it seemed the only way MySpace was going to claw back some of their users. Nevertheless, it’s been good to see platforms working together for the greater good of the user!

3. Everyone and his dog thinking they have the “ultimate solution”. This one is aimed at agencies & one stop shops who are trying to offer a product or service in the market which they believe will change the way we use the internet. I even remember a meeting in Jan that I had where  a company wanted to try and charge my clients £40,000 for setting up a social network around my campaign. Basically, they were trying to convince me that what they had to offer was better than what I could already get for free on Facebook or Twitter…. needless to say I declined their offer but that hasn’t stopped the whole world trying to get in on the act and offer things that we simply don’t need. So my point is clear… if you want to get into the social media space, then have something that is genuinely going to impact what we do for our clients at a reasonable price!!

4. Those who take risks seek rewards. This is a huge compliment to those brands who have dared to be different in 2010. I’m talking about the likes of Aviva with their campaign towards the end of the year who, instead of coming up with a traditional marketing campaign on TV etc, they handed the creative over to the mighty user by allowing them to become famous around the world. Be The Big Picture was different and got plenty of attention. Jimmy Choo also took a risk by creating a campaign that focused around Foursquare & Twitter. The Trainer Hunt, similar to Aviva was all about customer engagement and adding value. The risk was huge, as no brand before them had really used mobile marketing in the same way. 2011 has to be the year where brands take risks and think outside of the box. Don’t be someone who follows the crowd… take the lead & set the path for the future!

5. Stop thinking big & think smart. This is mainly off the back of the Tipp-Ex campaign this year which has now received almost 10 Million views on YouTube. Shoot The Bear broke quite a few boundaries but was also really simple. Sometimes brands can try too hard, when actually you have to think about the user experience. If you can create something that allows easy route to access & can create talkability, you’re half way towards a good campaign. Another great example is Nike Grid. Nike created something which was so simple & yet really effective because it played into the strengths of the user. It’s an idea driven by social competitiveness but executed in a real-time capacity.

2011 will no doubt be the year that defines the future of possibility within the digital space, but brands need to be smart & considered before thinking they can just walk in and own it. It’s not always done so easily, but when done well, it can shape a brand for the future.

2011… bring it on!!