social media researchIn 2010, many businesses laid their social media foundations. In 2011, many wonder what social media marketers will tackle as their top priorities.

Altimeter Group‘s recent research reveals that integration, staffing, advertising and measurement are all key areas of focus for social media strategists in 2011.

Jeremiah Owyang, industry analyst and Altimeter Group partner who focuses on customer strategy, recently delivered the keynote Social Business Forecast: 2011 The Year of Integration. He offered some extremely valuable survey results, insights and advice for businesses looking to expand their social media plans in 2011.

In the survey, Altimeter Group asked 140 corporate social strategists about their 2011 planning. Below are the specific questions asked and the graphs Altimeter created to reveal and compare the findings.

Question: What internal social strategy objectives will you focus most on in 2011?

As you can see from the graph above, "Creating ROI Measurements" was top of mind for almost half (48.3%) of those surveyed. Not so closely behind was "Internal Education and Training" (37.3%).

Question: What external social strategy objectives will you focus most on in 2011?

The graph above shows "Website Integration" as the #1 priority for 46.7% of respondents. This is an important objective because social integration with your website allows readers to stay on your site longer. This also encourages social sharing and community in a location (your website) that you have more control over (versus external social channels like Facebook and Twitter).

Question: What measurements are most important to evaluating the success of your program?

From the above graph, it's obvious that social strategists have their eye on engagement for 2011, with over 65.5% stating that retweets, comments and likes are top of mind when it comes to measuring social success. Interestingly, product revenue was much lower on the list, coming in at only 21.8%.

For years we’ve been hearing social media experts warn that profits and revenue should not be the ultimate goal for using social media tools and based on the findings above, businesses just might be starting to agree.

So how do you get ahead in social media in 2011?

Owyang’s advice is to invest in scalable social media programs in 2011.

How do you do that? Here are his six tips to help you move in that direction:

#1: Hire Correctly and Properly Train to Scale

Altimeter Tip: No gurus, ninjas or hotshots need apply. Look for solid experience and seek out the early technology adopters, as they tend to have a finger on the pulse of industry trends and behaviors.

#2: Integrate Social Media on Your Corporate Website and Then Aggregate and Curate

Altimeter Tip: Do this in stages, starting from ground zero with no integration and moving toward seamless integration by using a step-by-step progression. Start off with sharing, move toward integrating the brand with the social channels and eventually integrate social logins to keep people on your site longer and encourage even greater social sharing.

#3: Invest in Advertising That Leverages the Social Graph

Altimeter Tip: Advertising is the second highest social business program spend for 2010-2011, but it must be done strategically to see real results. Focus on clear metrics and make sure to tie the ads back to the social graph, instead of the old way of using banners.

#4: Build an Unpaid Army of Advocates to Get Your Customers to Do the Work for You

Altimeter Tip: Invest in advocacy programs because you can scale them more easily than most other social programs. Here are the 5 phases of scalability for an advocacy program:

  • Internal readiness
  • Identify advocates
  • Build relationships
  • Put advocates first
  • Foster growth

#5: Invest in Scalable Systems

Altimeter Tip: 1:1 dialogue does not scale. The two systems to help you scale are social customer relationship management (SCRM), which connects the social web to your customer database, and social media management systems (SMMS) such as Co-Tweet.

#6: Learn to Measure Using the ROI Pyramid

Altimeter Tip: To avoid information overload of executives and management, Owyang provides a valuable solution: Provide the right metrics to the right audience. Know who your internal audience is and give them the appropriate info.

He makes a great point by saying, “A novice mistake is to provide engagement metrics to executives.” He suggests instead that you focus on business metrics when it comes to executives.

Check out the “Social Media ROI Pyramid” in his keynote presentation (slides 37-40) to better understand which role should get what specific data. I’ve never seen it laid out this way and it’s incredibly valuable information you don’t want to miss.

Now it’s your turn! What are your thoughts on the six tips for scalable social media programs? Do you think it’s valuable advice or will you do things differently in your business? Leave your comments in the box below.

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  • Nice compilation of data Amy. For purely self-interest, Im glad to see that spending money on education in social media is high on the list.

    The last point is often forgotten. Know your audience and speak to what interests them…always a great advice.

  • Amy..people must take actions to make social media work for them, and that actions starts today.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  • Amy keeps on delivering great insight on Social Media. This research shows that fear on jumping into the Social Media bandwagon is not there anymore, now companies seem to be more focused on connecting themselves and trying to integrate and add numbers (ROI) to their strategies…

  • This is good advice. Thanks Amy for another well written article. @willisetech on Twitter –

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  • Very nice. I’ll recomment after reading your previous articles. Thanks. ed

  • Diana Bourel

    Good and thanks

  • Awesome breakdown Amy! Love the graphs.. Great job! 🙂

  • Hi Amy. This may seem basic but…

    How does “keeping your finger on the pulse” integrate? I mean to say with changes applicable to social marketing strategies seemingly everyday. Case in point Facebook’s new Pages. Where does keeping abreast of changing trends fit it into this? Or how is that kind of constant flux explained to people not aware of the changes always taking place in the landscape?

    A person can set up their SMM strategy based upon fragile constants integrating everything appropriately but if the tools they need to use to maximize that strategy change every few weeks what time and percentage allotment should be integrated into the constant guideline that everything changes much more rapidly than say SEO or PPC?

  • Andy Gonzalez

    I love this article, although I believe that most social media marketing will be outsourced to companies specializing in this field. A great company really making waves is Speak Social ( ) they are one of the future giants of SMO.

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  • Michael

    Business first and that drives the way to meet social media objectives!

  • Businesses are certainly focusing better this year on the indirect or relationship-based benefits of Social Media campaigns. Approaches in the earlier periods were definitely unrefined and far more dependant on one-way/broadcast/publish communication.

  • No gurus, ninjas or hotshots need apply. This is very funny!! Great article too, thank you!

  • rcl4rk

    Well said with great research and graphics. Thanks for this very useful information! @rcl4rk

  • great stuff. good food to chew on…I will be doing…

  • Looking at the last graph, it would have been nice if the first category would have been split up into fans, likes, followers on one side and retweets, comments, etc on the other. The second group is actively engaging and taking time to do something with your message, while the first group only makes one (impulsive) click. To my idea the second group are your real advocates and you need to invest in and engage with that group.

  • Steyn

    I have a question on point #3. How do I tie my ads back to my social graph? I dont really know what you mean by this. Also, where are web banners going this year and what are their relevance within social media?

  • I agree Dino–I was excited to see the “more money on education” stats. So important to say the least! Thanks for stopping by!

  • You are so welcome!

  • Great point about the lack of fear, Manu. That use to be such a central issue but that has since subsided.

  • Optinomics

    Wow, nice post Amy. I run a consulting business ( and will be using some of these tips with my business. Especially #4.

    Thanks, Bryan of Optinomics Consulting Group

  • Angela Jeffrey

    Amy – Really helpful article in that I don’t feel nearly as far behind the curve as I did. Good to know so many companies are focusing on internal social media training right now.

  • Great article Amy, nice to see education and creativity (i.e. creating ROI measurements, advocacy programs, etc.) listed so high in priorities for the coming year.

    Melissa Cahoon
    Interactive Marketing Intern

  • Russell_Loarridge

    Item #2 (Integrate Social Media on Your Corporate Website and Then Aggregate and Curate) is very important. As social media has evolved, marketers have lost focus of their websites while trying to build their social media presence. While a presence on Facebook and Twitter is great, it is very risky to put all your eggs in the social network basket. With new technologies you can now integrate your website with social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. We just published a white paper last week on “8 Proven Ways to Integrate Social Media on Your Site” that suggests ways in which your business might be able to integrate with social networks such as social login, sharing tools and ratings/reviews. Thought we’d share it here:

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  • drjosephnemeth

    Makes it all seem very do-able!

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  • Excellent post. It’s refreshing to see the trend on importance of engagement over revenue. Of course, all strategies will vary according to brand/business/etc, but it’s good to see this shift. Many businesses lose out on engagement benefits simply because they’re only looking at ROI in terms of immediate sales.

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