Social Media Club Seattle: State of Social in 2011

Yesterday I went to a meeting of Seattle’s Social Media Club on the Microsoft campus. About 300 people attended; I had no idea that a gathering such as this would draw so many.

The majority of people were from companies for which having communities seemed to make less intuitive sense than the videogame industry, and in particular, the MMO games industry. From this perspective, it was interesting to hear about what a challenge it is for them to engage their customer socially on the web.

A diverse set of presenters gave their insights on what they thought would be big in social media trends in 2011. The presenters came from different sectors: non-profit/charity, government, education, online entertainment, and social media consultancy. A great mix. Because each person was limited to 10 minutes on stage, they were not able to discuss their topics in-depth, however the format was great for getting out the main points.

Some of the presentations talked about trends and concepts I was already familiar with, so I didn’t gain too much insight. It’s common knowledge in community management that empowering users and identifying advocates makes a product more sticky and energises the user base. However, it seemed as if this information was new to many people, because there were a lot of claps and sagely nodding in the audience when presenters talked about such topics. It was good to get affirmation and confirmation of approaches I subscribe to though.

From my perspective, the following issues seemed to rise to the top in terms of important things to look out for in 2011:

Mobile

  • There will be more smartphone users in 2011
  • There was increased usage of mobile apps by consumers in 2010

Privacy

  • This was a huge issue for Facebook in 2011
  • The US government is growing increasingly interested in what social media companies are doing with regard to user information and privacy

Demographics

  • There will be more Baby Boomers online in 2011
  • Baby Boomers make up 25% of the population and own 75% of the wealth in the United States

Increased Adoption of Social Strategies

  • Companies cannot afford not to invest in social media and community
  • Competing on cost is incredibly expensive, which is why companies are looking to social media and community engagement as ways to differentiate themselves from competitors

It was interesting to see what was on the minds of some of these folks. In talking to a couple people at the event, it seems as these gatherings are also used for networking and job searching. In general, this event was interesting enough, and I think new community managers and social media practitioners would get more out of it than veterans.