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December 30, 2009


2009 in Review: The Rise of Social Media

by Anthony Verre

The Year Social Media Grew Up: 2009

2009: The Year Social Media Grew Up

Let’s start off with a confession: I’m an SEO and SEM’er (which might have been obvious from the name of the blog). Naturally, I tend to think my discipline of choice, SEO, is the most important of the disciplines.  I work in the “nuts and bolts” of sites: from arduous keyword research selection and code tweaking to site architecture to content manipulation/augmentation to link building. A Jack-of-all-Trades you could say.

And, as an SEO, I need to be fluent in all things SEM. Need to know how they tick, are used, and how they can be leveraged at an organic level. Most would believe that SEOs are diametrically opposed to SMM (social media marketing), but this couldn’t be further from the truth (considering the most recent updates to Google SERPs with real-time, “fresh” results).

Social Media: Through Puberty

Social media, as we know it today, has been around for a few years now (Blogger/Facebook/Myspace/Digg/etc).  But, it wasn’t until 2009 that social media grew up and became a force of its own.

I can trace back the “GROWTH SPURT” to exactly this date: April 17, 2009. Why this particular date? Oprah dedicated an entire show Twitter: what it is and how to use it. Apparently, she’s not too keen on the vehicle, with only 90 tweets. Coincidently, this is the exact same day Ashton Kutcher was on Larry King Live to talk about the race to 1 million followers with CNN. This is the day social media went from a potty-trained toddler to a college graduate with two kids and a mortgage.

When You Grow Up, You Get Exploited

When you grow up and reach that certain point in your life, everyone wants something from you. And, for the search marketing crowd, the adulthood of Social Media represented a new gold rush. For over a year, since early/mid 2008,  businesses were hesitant to drop themselves into the social media pool.

Here are some fun facts about social media and network growth over the past year*:

  1. The fastest growing segment on Facebook are Gen-X’ers and Baby Boomers
  2. Time spent on social media and networking sites is the fourth most popular activity, ahead of checking personal email.
  3. Use of Twitter and other micro-blogging sites has TRIPLED since the summer of 2008
  4. Social networking and media sites account for nearly 10% of total time spent online.

In one day, with Oprah-fication as proof the medium had gone mainstream, every business and corporation wanted to get in on the action. Gobble up all those Gen-X’ers and Boomers as they started stumbling around the social minefield. An easy mark.

social media snake oil salesmen

Yes. You two are social media douchebags

Enter: The Social Snake Oil Shakedown

Talk about low-hanging fruit: and out come the douchebags, the self-proclaimed experts and gurus, and those looking to capitalize on the corporate lambs and SMBs that want the latest and greatest.  SEO went through the same growing pains, and to some extent, is still going through it.

2009 marked the entrance of SMM and SMO snake oil salespeople. They come in two varieties: Fast-talking folks who have a blog, a Facebook profile, and a Twitter profile. They probably worked in a low-level PR position and started a gig on the side. Or, traditional ad agencies with a newly developed “digital” arm, trying cash-in and be relevant in a web-dominated world w/ metrics.

No, a professional does not include someone who states the pure obvious about “how to really succeed in social media”. I’ll save you some time so you don’t have to read another carbon-copy article just worded differently.

Every Article You’ve Ever Read About Social Media Success Tips:

  1. Be genuine. Don’t fake your persona
  2. Engage the community on a regular basis
  3. Social Media/Networks are all about trust. Work to accrue that trust.
  4. Mix your personal and business lives on your social account (a.k.a. be genuine)
  5. Don’t be political, religious, or offensive in any way, shape, or form. (Unless, of course, that’s who you are. Then you should do it. But with caution)
  6. Know your segment and community. Provide information that will be useful to them, and, coincidently further your business endeavors.
  7. Don’t prostitute your own links all time. You’ll be seen as disingenuous, and, therefore, lose followers.

There. That should just about cover nearly every single post, article, piece I’ve seen on social media this year. But this  is not to say that they aren’t real professionals out there who know exactly how to engineer and construct smart, linkable SMM campaigns. Do your homework, use trusted resources for recommendations, and slam the door on social media snake oil.

Predictions for SEO and Social Media 2010

Predictions for SEO and Social Media for 2010:

Honestly, what would a review post be without a few predictions?

1) The clear, definite distinctions between search marketing disciplines will be gone

We’ve already started to see this. Algorithm updates, based on some cursory research and data I’ve seen for clients, are suggesting to me that PPC and SEO are intertwined. Taking that further, SEOs will have to get their heads around SMM/SMO and learn to apply it to their overall arsenal. The lines have already begun to blur; evolve or die.

2) Social Media and Networking will go through a Purge Phase

It’s not that the number of sites will shrink and fade out (though I can see that happening too: an inter-web social network pissing match), it’s those who self-proclaim guru status that will die out. I think this coming year you’re going to see more and more “certifications” floating around. And, a higher demand from SMBs and corporations that will demand some sort of certification before they hop into bed with you.  Get one or get purged.

3) SEO will be Fine. Relax.

SEO isn’t going to die. Far from it. It’s going to be more valuable than ever this coming year. And, since we are the Jack-of-all-Trades (master of a few), we’re going to be needed on several fronts. Especially dealing with SMM backlink strategies and how to pull reliable metrics on those campaigns to measure effectiveness and ROI. Once again, evolve or die, people.

With that, everyone, I hope you all have a wonderful, pleasant, and successful 2010. Happy New Year!

  1. Jan 5 2010

    Enjoyed your interview w/ Think Tank Live today. Will be bookmarking this blog and following the Tweets.

  2. Jan 15 2010

    i totally agree with you in 2010 search engine optimization will be at it peaks and i also looking for new seo techniques in 2010.

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