As 2010 comes to a close, Smart Brief on Social Media reached out to social-media strategy consultant and author Jay Baer for insights into how social-media will evolve — both tactically and strategically — in the coming year. You can read more of Baer’s work at Convince & Convert.

What social-media trends or tools will you be watching in 2011?

2011 will be the year of convergence and integration. Fueled partially by consolidation, mergers and acquisitions, and partially by API mashups, we’ll see huge progress in unifying social communication. We’ve been talking about “one-to-one marketing” for 20 years, but in 2011 we’ll finally start to see it become a reality.

Nearly every major announcement and R&D trend in the social industry revolves around adding data or layers of connectivity. Just in the past few weeks you have Facebook integrating e-mail, PostRank integrating Facebook data, Bing integrating Facebook data, Cotweet integrating with ExactTarget (they’re clients of mine), and several others.

Soon, we’ll be able to send an e-mail just to customers that clicked a particular link on Twitter. We’ll be able to send a Facebook status message just to customers who visited a particular page on our website. By combining what we know about our customers and prospects and friends across multiple social outposts, we’ll end up with a centralized view of each of our connections. This finally will give us the ability to in a meaningful way segment our social communication. Today, Twitter is the same as the “batch and blast” e-mail campaigns of the past, when every subscriber got the same message, regardless of their preferences and purchase history. It’s going to change.

Social media will become targetable.


What will a state-of-the-art social media program for a business look like in 2011?

When social media becomes targetable, results will become easier to identify and track. This will accelerate companies’ participation, and they’ll be more willing to devote resources to social communication. As we talk about in “The NOW Revolution,” a state-of-the art program will include these shifts:

  1. A corporate culture that values being social, not just doing social media. If your C-suite doesn’t really care about being open and social with your customers, your company will struggle to be great at social media. You can’t fake caring.
  2. Thinking differently about social roles and responsibilities. The fact is, everyone in your company is potentially in marketing, whether they are or not. Everyone is potentially the first point of contact for a prospective customer. Why would I call a switchboard or 800 number, when I can find a live body that works at the company on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin or elsewhere? Consequently, companies serious about social move sociability outward, dispersing it more widely across the organization. Sure, you’ll still have your “official” social media channels for the company, but smart businesses will encourage — rather than forbid — a large number of employees to participate in social media. Zappos figured this out years ago. More companies will get on board with this approach in 2011.
  3. Internal social media. Once you have a broad social program where you’re adding social frosting to all of the cake you already own, coordinating all of that activity becomes critical. We’ll see a lot more companies adopting (and talking about) internal social media next year.
  4. Decentralized listening. Having one or more official social media listeners (or possibly outsourcing that task to an agency), won’t be enough for top-tier social programs. Instead, listening will become a departmental program, rather than company-wide. Especially for larger companies with multiple products, divisions, and locations, centralized listening is the post-modern equivalent of the mail room — an inefficient bottleneck. Each product, business unit, and location will have its own listening software and team.
  5. Broad engagement. Smart companies will move along the Humanization Highway, and interact with customers and prospects in ways that go beyond answering direct questions. Content marketing, storytelling, and understanding that “the difference between helping and selling is just two letters” are hallmarks of this approach.

A handful of major social networks dominated the conversation in 2010. Will 2011 see more competition? If so, where and how?

We find ourselves repeating history. Instead of ABC, NBC, CBS — we have Facebook, Twitter, YouTube.

Certainly, the major social networks are massively utilized, but does anyone really love them? It’s to the point where they succeed because of their scale as much as because of their functionality. We’ll see a lot more challengers in 2011, because as you get bigger, so does your Achilles heel. Recently, we saw the release of Path, a social network that limits your connections to 50, defying the assumption that more friends = better online relationships. That’s a good example of a challenger trying to do more by doing less.

I’m not sure any of these Davids will be able to put a dent in the Goliaths, but our choices for social connectivity (especially in location-based apps and social commerce) will become plentiful.

What will we be saying goodbye to in 2011? What ideas/arguments/technologies do you think will go the way of the dodo next year?

The most important question we’ll put to bed next year is “Should my company be active in social media?” Every company will have to be social eventually, whether they like it or not. Our customers will demand that they be allowed to interact with businesses in this way — the same way they demanded that we connect via websites and e-mail. The new question will be “How do I know what resources to devote to social media?” That’s a sign of real progress.

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45 responses to “Why 2011 will be the year of social-media convergence”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Travel and Twitts, mikel jauregi, Vinoth Chandar, John Adams, Ana Hoffman and others. Ana Hoffman said: Why 2011 will be the year of social-media convergence: As 2010 comes to a close, Smart Brief on Social Media rea… […]

  2. David Perdew says:

    There's no question that social media is evolving heading into 2011, it's just a question of how much. Will more businesses catch on to boosting online marketing by engaging customers through social media? Sure. Will competitors make a dent in the "big three" social media networks? Not next year. WordPress is a great example of a solid platform that's been able to fend off competition from MySpace, Tumblr,, Ning, and others over the years. Twitter and Facebook, barring a catastrophe, won't see market share dwindle next year.

    I do agree that platforms will continue to converge, though. All the late-year buyouts and mergers are already evidence of that. Next year separates the developers who are powerhouses from those who decide to pull the plug.

  3. […] SmartBlog on Social Media – Best Practices and Case Studies on Social Media Marketing for Busi… […]

  4. […] fact, Jay Baer just wrote a fantastic piece about why 2011 will be the year of social media convergence that emphasizes the importance of investing in social media from the ground up. We already know […]

  5. Richard Lipscombe. says:

    Look for something new in 2011 – that is the pertinent comment here. Facebook-Tribes are becoming boring closed loops. LinkedIn is focussed on jobs not work. Twitter lacks focus and clarity of purpose. Youtube has huge upside but is part of Google which has the Microsoft virus (too big, too arrogant, and too slow to innovate). GroupOn is the new social media. Why? It connects people who want to do things together. It is a viral marketing tool for mom and pop stores. It addresses needs not wants. It puts time limits on opportunities. Summary. It is not perfect. It is open. It enables group collaboration for a specific purpose. It puts companies in the market place for a day and that day of exposure has a 'long tail' effect on sales. Youtube could be a GroupOn but I am not sure what the insight is to make it so. In short, Social Media is over-rated – Tupperware did all the things we see mentioned in the advice above better than any company today and it did it back in the 1950s. People and their habits are what determine the success of social media/networks not the technology. People have needs for belonging (Facebook-Tribes) for security of employment (LinkedIn Clans) and for sharing their perceptions of the world events (Twitter Clusters). 2011 will give us more of the same from people. So who will set up with technology that fits their core needs?

  6. About a year or so ago, I tried to implement an internal social tool called Yammer. Some people bought in, but overall, it was a flop. I'm not sure if was the tool, the implementation or poor timing. What are you thoughts about successfully implementing an internal social network concept?

    I'm excited about your last point. I also agree that we are moving to a time that the question 'should my organization participate in social media?' will not be asked.
    My recent post Create a Social Media Hub

  7. Agent SEO says:

    I agree that social media in 2011 will be a big year. I do think that most companies now finally understand that being social on the web is a must – they can't just keep to themselves. Therefore, I do agree that many companies will take the management of their social strategy in-house and potentially hire somebody for in-house SMM management, as they'll probably be able to better justify it in terms of ROI more so than ever before.
    My recent post Creating a Facebook Business Page &amp Promoting It- Step-by-Step

  8. jaybaer says:

    The challenge is that as companies get more immersed in social, they want to (or have to) respond more quickly to customer feedback and questions. This is simply more difficult for almost all third parties. People sitting in your office can find the answer and tweet back faster than people not sitting in your office. It's not an indictment of agencies and consultants, it's just reality.
    My recent post Why Looking in the Mirror Make an Ass Out of U and Me

  9. […] Why 2011 will be the year of social-media convergence RT @techguerilla: RT @jaybaer: Why 2011 will be the year of social-media convergence (tags: […]

  10. […] here’s a post from Jay Baer on SmartBrief on Social Media on why 2011 will be the year of social-media convergence and, also from SBOSM, the results of their own survey report on the state of social media for business. I especially liked how […]

  11. Greetings from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Down here we embrace Social Media and look towards 2011 as an even stronger year with our use of WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and more intergrated into a marketing system to reach people beyond our sandy shores. We rely on the Internet to reach our customers before they put on their sunscreen. As a transplant here 8 years ago we were the first to use Craigslist to market to our customers. That system is now flooded by competitors and so we had to look towards new and more exciting ways to market. Social Media Marketing is like a cocktail party across the waves without the cost of drinks and hangovers. To further our outreach we sponsored a Tweet To Be Heard Conference and will produce an even larger conference in 2011. Step One for us in the New Year is to reach out. Step Two is to get people to be Social on our Sandy Shores.

  12. Subbu Jois says:

    Greetings, Jay and Jesse!
    Excellent interview! I have been researching on the evolution of Web 3.0, which, I believe, will evolve over the next 3 years. Web 3.0 may aim to deliver User Centric Internet. Your interview is apt on the matter. Social Networks, email, file share, entertainment and lifestyle will move from domains to services as Mobile internet devices become the primary mode of access to the internet. Web 3.0 will also demand implementation of user controlled privacy as close as possible to the real world privacy.

  13. Jessica W says:

    Awesome post…everything you said was spot on! I just started at a new company that has absolutely no social media presence. They say their lack of social media integration is due to the industry our company is in…I don’t buy it. I think any industry from metals to retail can thrive on successful social media presence. Being a new college grad, with a strong personal social media background, I am trying really hard to get my company to see that, which is proving to be a big challenge. I think the fact that we are an international company is even more of a reason to tap into social media even if it’s as simple and minimal as a blog or facebook page. In fact, currently facebook is blocked from access. Whether the company likes it or not social media at the forefront on consumer-company interaction. I agree with you when you wrote “everyone in your company is potentially in marketing, whether they are or not.” From sales person to upper management, each individual employee is just as responsible as the marketing department in networking and branding their company’s name. I guess I’ll keep at it and hope that I can eventually persuade the company to take a look at the successes of social media in business because the advantages definitely outweigh the disadvantages. Thanks again for the great insight!

  14. […] via Why 2011 will be the year of social-media convergence. […]

  15. Some great points – liked the comment regarding 'internal' social media – Yammer is a great start, but also another app to have open/prompting you on your desktop. Working in a large company I can certainly see the benefits of open and timely communication. It would seem counter-productive to follow your workmates on Twitter however … or would it?

  16. Liza H says:

    Jay, great post. What is your definition of internal social media? Is it just within the org or does it extend to the company's integration of their own site with the social web, rather than siloing everything on the social networks themselves?

    I think scaling and the use of social data will be hot topics in 2011 – how many community managers or fans can one company really acquire and leverage? Enabing users and customers to act as brand advocates will be key to delivering scale. I'd be interested to get your thoughts on the following:

  17. […] Why 2011 will be the year of social-media convergence ( […]

  18. […] Read Baer’s insights on… […]

  19. phobos says:

    Has anyone had any experience of businesses using a revolvoing group of non-dedicated employees to interact with customers and communities through social media as opposed to those setting up whole dedicated departments to manage this activity.

  20. In the recruitment industry we are seeing a lot of drag in the take up of social – not least because of difficulty in convincing the c-suit but also that current traditional systems, process and methods is where the CURRENT revenue streams are. Recruiting has always been social. We have built talent steams of likeminded skill sets and resource pools which sit on static databases and conversation has been on the phone and latterly email. Attraction has and is very much outbound web1.0 style JobBoards where we wait to be found! For the recruitment industry – a people business, then social networking is a tremendous opportunity in all respects. The challenge for us is to solidify the shifting whispering hype to become solid in our social strategy and direction and a must before anything, is influencing leaders. Overall, big company or small company it’s the collective mindset that counts and there will be much convincing required in 2011.
    My recent post StephenTurnock- @AlexCharraudeau Hey Alex- Thanks for the RT!

  21. Social convergence enabled by API mashups. Exactly what I call Compound Marketing. Right on – as long as Marketers are able to focus on strategy and not focus on mashing up APIs. Exactly what I have been writing about recently on my blog. For more, check out
    My recent post The Rise and Fall of the Marketing Technologist

  22. […] his social media prediction for 2011 which I must say was pretty profound. Head on over to the SmartBlog to find out what he had to say (after you read the rest of this post of course). Oh, I think we […]

  23. […] Jay Bear hat einige interessante Trends zum Thema Social Media in 2011 vorausgesagt: 2011 will be the year of convergence and integration. Fueled partially by consolidation, mergers and acquisitions, and partially by API mashups, we’ll see huge progress in unifying social communication. We’ve been talking about “one-to-one marketing” for 20 years, but in 2011 we’ll finally start to see it become a reality. via […]

  24. […] beyond the marketing team, have been selected for some of the best social case studies in 2010.  Jay Baer also recommends brands should roll-out social media tools to all employees – which he defines as […]

  25. […] Stanchak? writes in an article at SmartBlog on Social Media that 2011 will be the year of social-media convergence. What is that, you ask?  (Don’t you […]

  26. […] Smart Blog:… […]

  27. The big danger here is that a social media marketing lead approach could really screw up the serious social business projects in many companies.

  28. […] for some time now and I’m looking forward to more. Pete Blackshaw, Brian Solis and Jay Baer are already pointing to 2011 as one of convergence. So check out the site, share the content and […]

  29. […] this for some time now and I’m looking forward
    to more. Pete Blackshaw, Brian Solis and Jay Baer are already
    pointing to 2011 as one of convergence. So check out the site,
    share the content and […]

  30. […] SmartBlog on Social Media – Why 2011 Will be the Year of Social Media Convergence […]

  31. […] SmartBlog on Social Media – Why 2011 Will be the Year of Social Media Convergence […]

  32. […] Smart Blog: Why 2011 will be the year of social-media convergence […]

  33. […] For 2011Search Engine Land: 11 Social Media New Year’s Resolutions For 2011Smart Blog: Why 2011 will be the year of social-media convergenceSmart Company: The 10 next social media trendsSocial Media Examiner: 30 Social Media Predictions […]

  34. […] Smart Blog: Why 2011 will be the year of social-media convergence […]

  35. […] 4. “Once you have a broad social program where you’re adding social frosting to all of the cake you already own, coordinating all of that activity becomes critical. We’ll see a lot more companies adopting (and talking about) internal social media next year.” Jay Baer, Why 2011 will be the year of social-media convergence […]

  36. my2cents marketing says:

    I think it’s important for businesses to understand that no matter what your business needs to start following social media trends as soon as possible in order to simply survive in the market today! Social medias are an on-going trend and has changed the way our society interacts with the brands and products that we encounter on a daily basis!
    I think this article was a great article for everyone, not just businesses, to learn and understand why communication techniques are changing and what we can expect with the New Year. As the article stated it’s time for businesses to start BEING social, not just engage in social medias. Besides, where’s the fun or beauty in communicating without any dialogue?

    MY2CENTS Marketing & Consulting!/MY2CENTSmarketing

  37. […] 5.        Thinking differently about social roles and responsibilities  […]

  38. Mark J. says:

    Something I was thinking about was social media convergence, since my idea is not so unique, I will out with it. Your site was an inspiration to it so I will cross post.

    My prediction is that within 5 to 10 years social media sites will be fully integrated. The API's(Software connectors) will communicate freely, and it will be able to be managed from a dashboard where you can post once in the metacloud and it goes to all or some of your social media sites. API integration has already begun to occur. YouTube videos in Facebook, twitter in Facebook, Facebook in bing, etc. The next logical step is to make it easier to manage the connections and how user content will be distributed.

    Will there be privacy and security concerns, yes absolutely. Will it make easier to find friends and family online, yep. Will it make it even easier easier for individuals to connect to and manage vast networks of friends, oh yeah. This is the essence of Web 3.0. Eventually web 1.0 and 2.0will wither away and social media sites will be nothing more than a brand and a database. The format won't even exist as an interconnected monolithic web site it will just be an API or software extension. You will get all your news, social media and web content updates through one cloud portal. Any data(Movies, pictures, posts, etc.) you want to upload will be easily transportable and presentable between sites and will appear to you as one object attached to many sites. The connectivity will be managed with a drag and drop interface where you can link and un-link media shares between sites at will.

    If I had to guess businesses and advertisers will be the first to harness my proposed technology, if they do not already have social media management and authoring software/portals.