Most bloggers right about now are publishing their predictions for 2010. A few good ones I've seen are from JiWire and MediaPost. Rather than offer my predictions I'm going to focus on what challenges I see for Brand marketers in 2010 as Social Media continues to make headway in Marketing plans. [Caveat: These challenges are from the perspective of a large, global company that has complicated organizational structures. A smaller brand may be closer to partner groups and cross group collaboration may not be as big a struggle.]
1. Mergence of Paid and Earned: New opportunities arose in 2009 that combined User Generated Content (UGC) with media dollars (more detail here). The challenge for me as a Social Media Strategist is I don't manage any media dollars. I know that my community content is well received and often times has higher click through because of it's relevance to customers. If this content is compelling in the social space it should be just as if not more compelled for paid media. At Microsoft that means me reaching across multiple groups in other organizations to get my UGC integrated into a media buy. Likely people on the media buying team aren't as well versed in social media content which requires me to sell my case against other content they would historically feature in a media buy.
Another kind of media buy is on the Social Networks like Facebook, MySpace and YouTube (maybe Twitter in 2010, who knows). A great way to increase fan base on Facebook is engagement ads, likewise Sponsored videos is a great way to expose content on YouTube. The challenge for a social media team is I don't have media dollars to amplify the impact of my earned media.
2. Mergence of Earned and Owned: In 2009 we worked with the Windows.com team to integrate social conversation into Windows.com. We've had some early successes such as the Social Media Hub we launched with the Windows 7 launch. We still struggle to get better integration with the content team. As with the media buying team, the web content team doesn't have experience integrating Social content.
3. Audience vs Channel: Social Networks allow brands to amass very large audiences (millions if you are lucky). This is a good thing for volume but makes strategic messaging challenging. Windows has different types of audiences that respond differently to particular messages; a technology buff is jazzed to hear about the newest tip and trick but a novice may be more interested in the basics and a conversation that is too technical could turn them off.
One thing that I didn't mention was measurement. I think 2009 was the year of measurement. Our Social Media team understands how to measure our engagement activities and to put value on them. We have a dashboard we report to execs every month that shows our impact in regards to marketing reach.
Social marketing in 2010 will mean groups reach across the isles with PR, customer support, product planning, advertising, sales, media buying and other groups to truly realize the impact social conversations can have on a brands marketing and future innovation.