Enterprise social media predictions for 2010


I’ve been working on this post a bit at a time over the course of a few weeks. In the meantime, Amber Naslund posted a compelling argument why she doesn’t want to write a list of social media predictions for 2010.

But I’d much rather spend my efforts at the end of a year planning what I can and will do, instead of musing about what may happen (and that’s typically out of my control).

An excellent point and a valuable call to action for social media practitioners. And I think I will consider it the very moment I finish my...

Social Media Predictions for 2010

The heyday of the Social Media Manager

This will be a growth year for jobs with titles like mine (social media manager). We’ll see more companies hiring people to create strategies, implement policies and coordinate social media activities. Hopefully those people will have a background in marketing or marketing communications and an understanding of how marcomm supports sales and marketing efforts, and not just a Twitter handle.

We’ll start to figure out the methodology and the staffing and the workflow, and be able to track a tweet to a lead to a sale. It will be hard work, but this is the year we’ll come to terms with it.

Some of the people who take social media manager jobs won’t even know that Chris Brogan thinks it’s a silly title, and that leads to my next prediction…

Cracks in the fishbowl

In 2009, nearly every social media practitioner I knew was connected to one another on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, read one another’s blogs and shook hands like old friends (whether or not they’d ever actually met) at events like BlogWorld or the Inbound Marketing Summits. Many people refer to that as the “fishbowl,” and it’s an accurate metaphor.

In 2010, we’ll see more and more people active in social media who aren’t swimming in that bowl, and even if they know it exists, might not be peering in. There are plenty of traditional marketers these days who aren’t reading marketing blogs or falling asleep at night with the latest marketing book on their chests. In the future, not every social media practitioner will be a geek and a zealot.

This is a two-edged sword: Getting some new ideas and perspectives will be beneficial, but I’m afraid we’ll start to see some lessening of the passion as well. And a lot of charlatans.

Spammers, scammers, and your mom

Tired of DM spam in Twitter? Noise? Too many friends? Foursquare updates from people you’ve never met? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet. 2010 must be the year we put practical strategies in place to filter through the chaff. We’re exactly where we were in the early days of email. We need to get on top of the problem in social media before it’s too late.

We chill a little

I’ve spent as much time in 2009 talking to people about the hazards of participating in social media as I have talking about the benefits. Corporate marketers, lawyers, HR folks and brand cops are still pretty worried about what might happen. I’m hoping that as 2010 rolls along, we’ll relax a bit and start to get on with it. Although there will inevitably be some fresh horror stories along with more positive case studies.

We tuck in our shirts

At one conference this year I spoke to a social media consultant who seemed interested in working with SAS. He was wearing a ball cap, a shiny disco shirt and a five-day stubble. As I’ve said recently and often, I used to work in the music industry, so I’m perfectly comfortable with the concept of a smart and hard-working professional who dresses like a teenager. But other people I work with are at different stages of their acceptance in that regard. I remember thinking, “If I bring this guy on campus at SAS, people will think I’m trying to sneak in my dealer.”

Chris Brogan owns the dissheveled pirate thing. David Armano has a trademark on the cowboy hat. Jason Falls is the shouty, downhome guy. Geno and Spike from Brains on Fire are… um… Geno and Spike. They are all great folks, have proven themselves, are masters of their craft and can do what they want.

If you’re a social media consultant hoping to get enterprise work in 2010, don’t think about your shtick, just focus on what problems you can solve. And tuck in your shirt.

We define ROI

Return on investment. Return on influence. Return on engagement. We must define ROI. We must not define ROI. Blah blah blah. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The only measure that matters to the people I most need to influence is how much software we sold compared to how much money we spent. It is my profound hope and optimistic prediction that in 2010, we start to come to terms with what social media ROI actually means, and we find a straightforward and compelling way to demonstrate it.

Photo by me


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  1. Great post, Dave! Especially liked the "we tuck in our shirts" paragraph. There are definitely a few social media professionals who seem to think their online presence exempts them from the offline "first impression."

  2. It will be fun to look at it this list this time next year! Your "cracks in the fishbowl" theory is a good one, and I'm already starting to see it happen. Marketers whose bosses tell them "to do social media" ... so they dip a toe into the social media waters and proclaim they're a "social media expert," when really they need to dive in and take a swim before they should even be able to lay hands on a "social media manager" title.
    Also, I hope your right about the "we chill a little" section. If not in 2010, certainly by 2011! As for the "we tuck in our shirts" section, would you settle for "we smile and smell good?"

  3. I could just use three words to comment on this post but social media practitioners would kill me. Those three words would be "great post Dave".
    A few points I'm leaving away with after reading your post are:
    1. Write a post on what I can and will do better in 2010
    2. Hoping more people will focus on real strategies and measurement in 2010
    3. Everyone will define their own ROI and work towards achieving their goals.
    One more thing, that's why I always keep my shirt tucked in unless I'm wearing a sweater.
    Have a great year Dave.

  4. I believe you will be counted more right than wrong with this post. The past year has seen an explosion of instant social media experts, mavens and gurus. What we've really needed were more men and women like you who take a step back and survey the social landscape. Social media managers are planners of long-term strategy not merely writers of the next post or tweet. Great insight.

  5. David B. Thomas on

    Thanks, Wayne. You're one of the people I thought of immediately in the "tucked in" category.
    Thanks for all your help, support and friendship in 2010 and I wish you the best of luck at Twine Interactive. Looking forward to hearing great things.

  6. David B. Thomas on

    Waynette, thanks very much. It's been quite a year, hasn't it? Not to sound like a mutual back-patting society, but we also need more folks like you who are enthusiastically learning and using social media to help us reach and support SAS customers.

  7. Yes, what a year. And I believe that 2010 will be even better. I've heard so many business doomsday predictions that say that innovation is dead in the US. From my seat, I tend to agree more with Warren Buffet when he says that you never know when the next telephone or steam engine will be invented. I believe that 2010 may be the year when we see a dramatic change in the way that marketers use the Internet and view social media. Now marketing often sees social media as an add-on. In 2010, with the help of people like you, they may begin to see it more as an integrated part of their organization's marketing strategy and challenge their marketing teams to add live blogs, tweets, podcasts and videoblogs to their campaigns.

  8. Brian McDonald on

    What I have to tuck in my shirt now? I've been waiting 20 long years to untuck and now this! All kidding aside, great post and yes we do need marketing and communications people to look at changes in channels, networks and other mediums to determine what the value is to customers.

  9. Dave, some great thinking here. I really like your comment "Tuck in your Shirt" because it takes the industry thinking to an entirely new level which is needed to support the requirements of the corporate world.

  10. Love the post, Dave. One item I would add is that we're going to see more and more people on Twitter ask, "Hey, Company X? I need help. Why aren't you on Twitter yet?"
    And I hope not everyone starts tucking in their shirt. Social media should have a slight air of informality about it. I'd hate to see the sphere get stuffy.

  11. David B. Thomas on

    Just to be clear before I become known as the "shirt tucking guy" (and as I sit here struggling to keep my own tucked in): My point is, if you want to present yourself to big companies as a knowledgeable professional, make an impression that will help you get your value across, not one that creates obstacles and gives people a reason to dismiss you as unprofessional. Once you get in the door and prove yourself, you can do whatever you and your client are comfortable with.

  12. Great post David. I agree with much of this. I completely agree that people need to start proving ROI. It's there and they have just been lulled into a sense of complacency because no one has asked them to prove the value of social yet.
    Just wait, it'll happen, and it will be very interesting for many of them who aren't trying hard enough. And it will be eye opening for those who are doing it right!
    take care and enjoy the holidays
    Adam @covati

  13. I like the Cracks in the Fishbowl insight, which reminds me of how satisfying it has always been to bring new people to blogs and social media, to give them a voice online and to listen to their perspectives. I'm really proud of what social media mavens like you and the commenters here have done to empower individuals to learn these new tools and use them to express themselves, share their knowledge and build our communities.

  14. David, This has been a pleasure to read. As you mentioned I think ROI is tricky, at the end of the day what are you measuring? Bottom-Up metrics such as sentiment (I hope not), in-bound traffic or Top-Down metrics such as direct load sessions, sales / visitors / conversion rates from referring traffic (aka social media platforms). If people obsess over bottom-up metrics then I believe we'll be waiting for another year for software that is truly capable of measuring & sorting the noise out there.

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