Episode 118: February 3, 2011
by Lisa B. Marshall
Social media is maturing. I’ve been waiting for this. I’ve never been fond of the term “social media expert.” After all, we don’t rely on “fax experts” or “telephone experts” to help us communicate more effectively. We instead turn to communication experts. Today, I’ll talk about social media and other communication trends in 2011.
Sponsor: The podcast edition of this article was sponsored by Audible. You can get a free audiobook to keep when you sign up for a free 14-day trial at audiblepodcast.com/lisa (It’s really a great service.)
2011 Trends in Communication
So what’s in store for 2011? In short, more! More communication. More sophisticated communication. More communication channels. More connectivity. More multimedia. Easier real-time collaboration. Bottom line? Richer and deeper connections and collaborations.
Since I don’t consider myself a social media expert, I was curious to see whether my thinking was in line with Chris Brogan (who is a known social media expert) and graciously he agreed to an interview.
You can listen to the full interview over at lisabmarshall.com. However, in the meantime, here are some trends for 2011:
Communication Trend #1: Organizations Will Embrace Social Media
As your probably know, social media is transforming the way companies communicate. Even if companies, small business owners, and individuals have chosen NOT to participate in social media up to now, this year they will.
Organizations are going to embrace (or perhaps be forced to embrace) social media as a tool to get business done. Sales professionals will want to use social media to attract and interact with prospects. Marketing professionals will use it to engage customers, monitor, and strengthen their brand. Customer service will want to be more proactive and available for customers. Human resource professionals will want to recruit the best talent and grow innovative cultures. Training will want to use social media for just-in-time delivery of instructional content and for innovative peer-to-peer training.
I’ve been waiting for this to happen. In the past, many companies simply banned the use of social medial. But according to Forrester Research, "A lot of businesses, small and large, are moving away from the more restrictive model of blocking social media to a more liberal access model."
With increased competition and tough economic times, we need to do things differently. It seems that the successful companies are moving away from a transaction-oriented view of business to a relationship view. What I think we’ve seen over the past few years is the early adopters figuring it out--people like Gary Vaynerchuk, Chris Brogan, and Mignon Fogarty, and organizations like Zappos, IBM, Comcast, Bigelow Tea, and Blendtec have been busy creating their playbooks.
Communication Trend #2: More Social Media Tools
As these organizations and individuals have success, they begin to recognize what works for them and what doesn’t. In fact, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research recently released the results of a study showing that though the most commonly used tools use in 2010 were Facebook, Twitter, and blogs, the most successful tools were message/bulletin boards, podcasts, and blogs.
What’s ahead in the coming year? More testing and more tools. When Chris and I talked he mentioned he believes we’ll see an increase in mobile technologies--which means we’ll see more location-based social media popping up. He also thinks the expansion of 4G technology is going to lead to more video. I agree with him. Over the past few years, I have heard people say, “This is the year of the video.” This year, I believe, really will be the year of the video.
Communication Trend #3: More Meaningful Interactions
However, Chris and I also talked about a shift. For example, he used to consider himself a “social media expert,” but now has been moving away from that term to use something that is broader and more comprehensive.
What happens is that after the social technology questions arise (what should we use?), the bigger—and definitely more important—questions begin to surface. How will we use these social technologies to better communicate, to connect more deeply, and to strengthen collaborations?
Many businesses (including my own) have spent the last several years trying to work that out. What exactly does it mean to conduct business in a social fashion? First, how do you interact and engage? Then, once you’ve earned some attention, what do you do next to build the relationship? How can you increase the perceived value of your offering? What goals do you set? How do you track and measure to see if you are moving in the right direction? How do you create social products? How do you earn the right to offer products in a way that honors the trust that you built?
The bottom line for me is that businesses this year (if they haven’t already) will make a mindset shift. Social media is no longer a tool to tinker with. Smart businesses will make the connection that business was and always will be primarily SOCIAL. We buy from people we trust. Social media tools help us to build trust in ways that wasn’t possible in the past.
Communication Trend #4: More Collaborative Sophistication
Not only do the social media tools help us in the area of trust, they also help us with collaboration. I suspect this coming year will see a similar increase in collaborative sophistication. Last year we saw significant problems with organizational communication when the automated foreclosure processes broke down. We need to better blend human and technology collaboration to improve decisions and responses. I think we’ll see some innovative solutions that improve collaborative communication processes. In addition, I think we’ll see more and more collaborations. We’ll see more successful attempts at “coopetition.”
So there you have it four trends in business communication for the coming year. What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts over on the facebook page.
This is, The Public Speaker, Lisa B. Marshall, passionate about communication, your success is my business.
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