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2011: The Year Social Media Comes of Age

The end of the year is always filled with predictions for the new year, so I think I’ll throw my hat in the prognosticators ring.

There has been a lot of talk lately about how social media is growing up. Those of us who declare ourselves to be social media strategists have been eyeing the horizon of 2011 knowing that the dust is still not settled and change will still be the strategist’s companion. But there are people out there sailing on the edge of the horizon that can give us direction. One of my favorites is web strategist Jeremiah Owyang from Altimeter. I follow his blog religiously. 

Owyang recently shared his forecast for 2011 on Slideshare. The presentation evolved from the Altimeter research on the career path of the social media strategist. The research is free and can be downloaded here. Following are three of my many takeaways from his presentation:

1. Social media is growing up and requires grown-up social media strategists.  It won’t be appropriate in 2011 to take social media strategy advice from your 16-year old nephew who set up your Facebook fan page. Solution: If social media is your job, invest in professional development or hire help. Social media has arrived and organizations can no longer afford to invest time, people and resources in it willy-nilly. Social media needs to part of an integrated media strategy, and pronto.

2. Training all around! The most successful models of social media integration, according to Altimeter’s research, involve a “hub and spoke” model, or one where a centralized unit sets rules and procedures and each individual “unit” is in charge of their own management and implementation.

Mashable had a recent blog on Owyang’s presentation at the Word of Mouth conference summarizing “7 Tips for Succeeding as a Social Media Strategist.” They noted that Owyang is an advocate of Intel’s social media IQ testing of employees, a test to make sure that a certain level of proficiency and understanding is reached before undertaking a social media task. Intel also offers a sort-of social media university for employees as well to get them to that proficient level. This is a great solution for companies wanting to implement the hub and spoke model. This way, you don’t need a “community manager,” just a headquarters, per se.

3. Know Your ROI. Here is the next frontier in social media expertise. Not just plain old ROI, but an ability to make ROI simple and customizable to the organization. 2010 was filled with ROI tools of every imaginable size and function. I like Owyang’s reminder of scale. Tools need to measure what you need them to measure. And cost isn’t necessarily an indicator of efficiency.

What’s your take on 2011?

image from Google images

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