What’s the “Next Big Thing” in Social Media for Publishers?

What should you be planning right now to compete in your publishing niche this year?

In 2011, we’re no longer asking if social media is a platform we want to use. Instead, we’re deciding which social media strategy we want to use. If we’re servicing businesses (B2B), then maybe we’re putting more emphasis on LinkedIn. If we’re trying to attract a mass of consumers, perhaps we’re using Facebook as our tool of choice.

When did “tweet” stop referring to a bird call and instead start being a verb that implies a 140-character shout-out? For Pete’s sake, OMG and LOL just got added to the Oxford dictionary. Social media “ain’t no big thang” anymore.

So what’s the word on the street, as to how we should start planning for the next big step in our social media strategy?

Is Q&A the next big social media strategy?

TheNextWeb predicts that Question & Answer sites will be getting bigger.

“These sites are hardly new and have been around for years but a new range of social features and bigger audiences have seen existing sites and some innovative start ups make this an interesting space once again. The big boys like Facebook are rolling this out as we speak to their huge user base and will be making it front and center on profiles as they look to tap in to the collective knowledge of the site. Another innovative start up that is making some serious noise within the tech community is Quora which should break out in to the main stream this coming year. Collective knowledge is incredibly powerful and social media is making that knowledge easier to spread.” – Seven Important Social Media Trends For The Next Year

While Q&A may seem like old news, sites like Quora are up around 300k unique visitors per month. The way they’ve built their community is by getting key industry leaders to provide the A’s for the all the Q’s.

Publishers could leverage this trend not only by being a part of these communities, but starting their own in their specific niches.

Is perfect timing the next big social media strategy?

Perhaps this isn’t much of a prediction but rather a strategy that will undoubtedly start getting more blog entries written about it. OneForty.com predicts that this is the year where businesses will be more aware of when they’re sending their tweets (and Facebook posts, etc.)

“Both strategists and the programmers who create the products for them are getting an eye for detail. It’s not just about being on Twitter anyone – it’s about getting the right audience. Then, it’s about using Klout integration to make sure you are engaging the most influential followers. The latest trend? Timing your Tweets: Engaging the most influential followers at the time they are most engaged. Two tools to check out: Crowdbooster and SocialFlow.”  – 4 Social Media Predictions for 2011

While I can support this theory, due to the fact that people are already concerned about timing, this isn’t the “next big thing”. It’s the “current thing”. Lo and behold, Dan Zarella has already created an app for Hubspot, and an upcoming webinar to boot.

Anyone else think that social media is getting a little too scientific?

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Is location-based news consumption the next big social media strategy?

I like this one. Vadim Lavrusik over at Mashable.com thinks that location-based news consumption will be the next big social media strategy. Think about some of the most talked about items of 2010: Foursquare, Gowalla, Facebook places, Google’s HotPot. Now think about what we can do with GPS technology ourselves.

“In 2011, with a continued shift toward mobile news consumption, we’re going to see news organizations implement location-based news features into their mobile apps. And of course if they do not, a startup will enter the market to create a solution to this problem or the likes of Foursquare or another company will begin to pull in geo-tagged content associated with locations as users check in.” – 10 Predictions for the News Media in 2011

This is definitely something to watch out for, and perhaps start developing. Even if you’re not a news organization, you can still leverage this technology. If you’re a travel magazine, perhaps you can create a feature where the user could read articles about the city they’re currently in. If you’re a food magazine, you might find restaurant feature articles for people nearby. You see where this is going?

Will content vs. keywords be the next big social media strategy?

Also from that Mashable article, Lavrusik points out that many news organizations are seeing more traffic from social media than search engines:

“Ken Doctor, author of Newsonomics and news industry analyst at Outsell, recently pointed out that social networks have become the fastest growing source of traffic referrals for many news sites. For many, social sites like Facebook and Twitter only account for 10% to 15% of their overall referrals, but are number one in growth. For news startups, the results are even more heavy on social. And of course, the quality of these referrals is often better than readers who come from search. They generally yield more pageviews and represent a more loyal reader than the one-off visitors who stumble across the site from Google.”

But let’s put this in perspective—how many news organizations do you know that actually implement even a smidge of SEO on their websites or in their headlines anyway?

In the same respect, Paul Dunay over at SocialMediaToday.com says that “NFO is the new SEO – that’s News Feed Optimization on Facebook.”

Basically .2% of fans return to a fan page and in some cases it’s more like .02% (hat tip BrandGlue) So people on Facebook who “like” your Fan page basically never go back to it. So stop thinking of it as a micro site and making it all fancy. What you need to focus on is the content and optimizing the content to get comments and likes which will help you drive amount of people that Facebook will show your page to. It’s all based on Facebook’s algorithm called EdgeRank. – 11 B2B Marketing Predictions for 2011

So what IS the “next big thing” in social media?

It’s pretty much impossible to predict. Coupon sites like Groupon are all the rage right now, but are quickly burning out due to the oversaturation of the market.

New competitor Swipely seems to be getting the idea. By taking the “one night stand” out of the equation and instead adding reviews and points to their business model, they allow businesses to offer continuous discounts and build lasting relationships.

But with all of this said… it’s unlikely that coupon sites will be a major game-changer for us as digital publishers. What is something that we’ll do to change the world in 2011? We already revolutionized the digital magazine with complex and beautiful iPhone and iPad apps… what’s the next step?

 

 

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