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2011 Year of Social Media

January 5, 2011

2011 … The Year of Social Media
It’s official, Dominic Miller has named 2011 the Year of Social Media and that’s good enough for me. After all, why shouldn’t it be an individual, a real person, and someone who wasn’t an initial convert to the trend that gets to make the call. Of course if you don’t agree, you can tell him yourself at @DominicMiller68 and while you’re at it you can blame Melina @houseofturtle for suggesting a blog post. None of my doing at all.

Map produced by Facebook friend-lines

Why the Year of Social Media?
The image above says it best, the world is socially connected in a way that it has never been before. Paul Butler, an intern at Facebook, produced this graphic by mapping Facebook account locations (people) and aggregating friend-lines (connections), the result in his words is an image that “resonated with many people. It’s not just a pretty picture, it’s a reaffirmation of the impact we have in connecting people, even across oceans and borders”.

Facebook, with well over 500 million accounts globally, when illustrated in this fashion creates a map of (most) of the World. Noticeably Russia and China’s exclusion policies impact our global ‘connectedness’, a discussion for another day. See more of how Paul created this image on Facebook at Visualizing Friendships.

Why This Year?
Over the last couple of years the Social Media phenomenon entered the corporate and professional sphere. Organizations started to allocate real budgets to projects aimed at expanding their online communication into Social Media platforms. While the strategies are varied in both method and results, and the road to commercial return is still unclear (as all new pathways are), it is increasingly the consensus view that these interactive and social channels are here to stay, important, and ultimately capable of generating value in a number of ways (discovery, engagement and interaction to name a few).

It may still be early days, but no one really wants to be left behind when transformational and disruptive innovation has finished washing over the world. Be certain of one thing, this is no small global change, in many ways this is the promise of the internet being fulfilled. 2011 is The Year of Social Media because it is the year in which the organizations that are the successes and failures of the future will establish their strategy, implement their model, spend budget and ultimately compete on this battlefield for the hearts, minds and dollars of their audience, prospective audience and future audiences.

The lines on the Facebook graphic, illustrated so well above, are not the flight paths of aircraft, they are the aggregate communication power of millions of human interconnections and billions of messages. People are not taking about what they ate, they are talking about what to buy, where to eat, which brands they support and discussing businesses, building awareness and creating referrals. Miss this ‘land grab’ for your brand, your message, your value proposition and it could all be over for you in just a few short years. Make no mistake … 2011 is the Year of Social Media. Facebook has already had moments when its ‘search volume’ has surpassed Google, this trend is only becoming stronger.

New Year’s Resolution
In 2011, putting your ‘Head in the Sand’ (blog link) is not the appropriate action. Activate your internal strategic resources, leverage quality consultancy (cleverly disguised Veridian ad here)  and build new channels to learn what works and will work in the future for your organization. You have a green-field opportunity to engage with the online market (10 million Australians already using Social Media, including over 5 million on Facebook and over 2 million on Twitter). Social Media activation is a quality New Year’s Resolution for the success of your organization and the groundwork for you to say in 12 months … 2011 was truly the Year of Social Media.

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