It’s the beginning of the year and most blogs, gurus, and agencies spent the last month of 2010 scrambling to put together their list of social media predictions.  Why it is often fun reading and insightful to hear from creative minds about where space is heading this year…it’s irrelevant for most brands.

While it’s a good idea to keep an eye out on general trends, this doesn’t mean your social media marketing efforts need to shift 180 degrees and focus marketing dollars and resources on new directions because you keep reading that it’s going to be a trend.

There’s Generally Little Value For Early Adopters

Yes…I know Dell made a million dollars years ago when they first got on Twitter.  But they are a global company and had thousands of people tweeting about their brand and category.  For the rest of us, there’s little value in being the first to adopt a new social network or technology.

The wishes and hopes of gaining early leads on your competitors in a new space are certainly appealing…but if your resources are limited then you need to make choices.  Let the other guys try the new stuff and learn from what they do well and learn from where they fail first.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t explore and spin your wheels on new ideas, but jumping forward and using QR Codes as your primary form of coupon redemption will just leave most of your customers wondering what the hell they’re looking at.

Identify Your Own Trends First

This is really where you need to be spending your time.  Identify who and what makes you the most money or increases your reach.

  • Where are your customers online?
  • What does your social media customer look like?
  • What are their digital habits?

If you have answers to these questions, then most general trends don’t matter.

If you’re seeing a large portion of your website traffic coming from mobile platforms, then it makes sense to start thinking about ways to make your website and user experience more mobile-friendly.  It makes sense to think about what other activities or social media networks also have a large mobile base and strategizing ways to take advantage of these trends.

Nothing against the good people who offer advice for what 2011 will look like, but take their content in perspective.  You and your company are much better served by spending time analyzing and focusing on your own trends than where we guru types suggest it.