Social media trends for 2011The nature of social media is that it is constantly in a state of flux. Trends within the medium are therefore subject to change as regularly as content within them.

As such, it’s difficult to anticipate the state of the social media environment with any certainty. However, being immersed in the social media industry, there are a few things that we’ve had our eyes on lately that are picking up steam and will be vital for your marketing campaign moving in to 2011.

Here are 5 Social Media trends to watch in 2011:

1. Question And Answer Websites

Far from revolutionary, Q and A websites have been around for as long as the Internet has been. However, the well established offerings like Yahoo Answers and LinkedIn Answers will be rolling out changes in the next few months that increase the ability for content generate within their sites to be shared and spread virally.

That means a strong presence on Q and A websites could be very positive for your overall image while simultaneously developing natural inbound links to your website.

With Facebook expected to launch it’s own Q and A platform shortly, this year is the time to get in on helping others by developing your profile on these sites. In 2011, the returns for some time invested now will come rolling in.

2. Mobile Technology

Now it might be easy to look at the success of foursquare, Gowalla and Facebook Places and assume that location-based technology is going to keep growing. That’s certainly true.

But the explosion of Mobile onto the social media scene has heralded a new phase in development. As such, don’t expect foursquare, Facebook Places or anything similar to be the most exciting location-based offerings in 2011.

Instead, keep your eyes peeled for the next big thing. If there’s one area where development is going to out-shine imagination, mobile technology is surely it. The innovators are still to come.

3. Facebook Credits

Let’s face it. The world is crying out for a universal currency. With the EU’s development of the Euro a few years back and ASEAN pushing for something similar next year, money management is becoming increasingly homogenized.

The obvious medium for a universal currency to be perpetuated is the Internet, simply because of it’s ability to distribute pretty much everything across the globe.

With that in mind, Facebook has made another interesting play this year to develop a system of micro-payment options that give users the ability to purchases goods and services using what have become known as “Facebook Credits“.

Over the past 6 months, Facebook has given users free credits to play with and develop the platform, but look for Facebook Credits to become universal across the web within a few years.

*Note – This could potentially be the biggest social change to happen in 2011. Don’t dismiss this in favour of getting new foursquare badges!

4. High-profile Branded Content

On the opposite end of product placement, but in the same niche, branded content will continue to carve out it’s own audience in 2011.

With Internet users increasingly frustrated by the presence of obvious advertising, banners and pop-ups, advertising firms have gone back to the drawing board and begun developing (how novel of them) content!

Yes, that means that although brands are still trying to sell us things, they’re no longer doing it exclusively with sales messages. Instead, advertising is becoming more and more about enriching the experience of users. The emergence of multi-media within online campaigns, the importance of YouTube channels and the changes to services like Twitter all mean that content is coming back in a big way next year.

5. Monetizing Twitter

Twitter, the micro-blogging platform which could soon be news-outlet has begun rolling out its monetization features. Apparently the user-base is now loyal enough (and let’s face it there’s really no qualified competition) that some money can finally be extracted from them!

This will mean small business owners will be able to leverage this space in their marketing and advertising campaigns. Be ready for the monetization of Twitter in the Spring of 2011.

What do you say?

Know any other social media trends we should be keeping an eye on? Let us know by leaving a comment below and you could be featured on Fan Friday.