Today, an article was published in "Inside Technology Services" that discusses my thoughts on the direction of social media in 2011 (full article here). In it, I outline the following five predictions: 


  • Prediction #1: Companies Will Get Serious About Integration
  • Prediction #2: Ubiquity of Social Media Will Create a Rush to Deal with the Ensuing Fire Hose of Information
  • Prediction #3: Social Media Management Will Formalize
  • Prediction #4: Business Value Will Emerge as the Key Driver for Technology Innovations


Prediction #5, "You Will Continue to Shape the Social Media Landscape!" is an important point to consider, because people make up the essential "social" part of "social media," and their perceptions and use of these channels will continue to drive transformations in this space.


And because people are so important to the social media equation, I asked you to share your predictions, thoughts and ideas with the community.


Where do you see social media going in 2011? What impacts will it have on tech services? What is most important to your organization?


Please share your thoughts below!



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Replies to This Discussion

Here's a prediction I made in my SearchCRM column:


Online communities will solve more customer problems than traditional self-service in 2011.


Hi John,


Thanks for your feedback!


Question: When you say "communities" are you referring specifically to enterprise-owned support communities, or does your reference account for all types of online communities / social networks?

The distinction can be confusing depending on how you think about it: on one hand, online support communities are the OG's of social support--they are entrenched, P2P, and by definition, social media. On the other, they can be thought of very differently than other types of social media--they are widely adopted, understood and managed properly--whereas other, newer platforms are still finding their footing.

Just wondering if you're making a distinction! Thanks again for sharing your feedback!



agree with you both. Online communities will solve more customer problems than traditional self-service as users are more tech savvy and expect quick answes. the combination makes them expect companies to offer community help either by their own experts or by facilitating a website to allow users to help each other.

I think Shawn's predictions are right on.


Customers want their interactions to be taken care of quickly and to be a simple as possible no matter how the request originates.  Integration with CRMs is going to be a must have and it should be. 


As Shawn's predicitions solidify in 2011, we will see social media SLAs integrated into the entitlements of customer support agreements.  There will be a day where we measure and report how we respond to social media requests for support the same way we do a phone call, email or chat request.  We'll be looking for ways to queue requests for support via social media up with our phone calls, etc through a single tool into our support centers sooner than we think!

Hi Karen,

I definitely agree! I think we are moving in the direction of treating social media as "just another channel" in our multi-channel strategy. And to do this, setting expectations with customers and prospects is key. Although tracking customer history through social media seems elusive to many companies today, the technology that makes it happen is already here, and always evolving.

Thanks again for your thoughts!


I'd like to add another prediction - that after a peak of social media adoption, there will be some abandonment.  Right now, it's a shiny object and everyone is quick to pick it up.  However, like other channels, not everything works for everyone - so when it doesn't show an ROI for a company, it will be shelved.  And, then, we'll have to see what evolves as our next "shiny object"!

Hi Nancy,


I can appreciate your angle and agree to a certain extent. However, I feel like those organizations who completely abandon social media will do so for the right reasons--they will realize that social media wasn't a good fit for them in the first place. Like you, I'm not a huge believer in the notion that social media is for everybody or everything, and many organizations might do their customer research and try and map SM to their business objectives and find out there simply isn't a fit.


There will be plenty of others that will continue to question the value of social media (or how to realize the value of social media on their P&L), and while I see a "pause" in resource investment for some, I don't think many will completely abandon SM because of the elusiveness of ROI. There is just too much excitement, too many success stories and not enough data to completely pull out if SM maps to customer need and business objectives.


I'm definitely curious what turns out as the next shiny object! Thanks again for joining the call today... I think it went really well!



Social media will become the main driver of knowledge creation in support.

Today, support organizations are struggling to create good content, even when they are using KCS. Social media will allow vendors to easily and immediately experience what users are most concerned about -- and provide rich mining opportunities to repurpose community content into formal (and easier to read and search) content for the knowledge base. I believe that such repurposing will be the main driver of ROI for communities, which today exist mostly because vendors believe they are cost-efficient, not because they truly deliver added value.

Hi Francoise,


I agree--we will see much more content harvesting in the future. I think Quora is an interesting example in this context. It strives to have "each question page become the best possible resource for someone who wants to know about the question". However, as Quora itself gets more popular as we have been seeing in the last month or two, the answers to each question become overwhelming, and the user (okay, me) experiences information overload.

And although Quora's capability to "vote up" the most popular answers sorts through the chaff to some extent, I think it would be nice--and would certainly save time--to simply find the single best answer to any given question.

I will be watching this closely--please keep me updated with any developments you see in the industry!


Shawn - good post and certainly thought provoking.  I think the points you make are interesting and valid, so are John's and Françoise's.  I'd add that we will see greater distinction between vendors along the well established axis of high / low complexity and consumer / enterprise vendors.


One other point to think about is the ownership of the social media channel and where that lies within the organization (sales / marketing / support), resolving that will be not be easy for support management.  This decision will also drive whether or not the SLA requirement as mentioned by Karen materializes and the organization's ability to meet it.



Hi Haim,

Thanks for your feedback! These are good points. The ownership issue is a huge one, and I expect to see some major shifts to how this is managed in the future. One point that was brought up today was not only the issue of functional ownership, but that of brand responsibility across multiple product lines.

Thanks again! Shawn

This is a great question, Shawn as I believe the evolution of social media will evolve in ways we can't even imagine today.  And it will present us with new challenges and opportunities in the world of online service/support.  For example, how will we achieve the any channel in/any channel out model customers have come to expect?  How will we meet customer expectations with regard to multilingual online support?  As demand for online support via social media channel grows, how will we grow our capabilities.  The transformation has just begun!  We've seen a huge paradigm shift with the launch of our Live Chat offering which customers have overwhelmingly embraced far exceeding our expectations! 


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