Top Online Communication Trends from 2011


It’s been quite the year for the marketer and corporate communicator. From the introduction of Google+ to mobile ad spend topping $1 billion, the way brands and companies communicate and market themselves is evolving at lightning speed. 

The change of pace can be headache-inducing, but at the same time, it’s a fascinating journey to follow. Below is our take on the top five online marketing trends we’ve experienced in the past year. 

Google +: For social media geeks like myself, June and July were largely about one thing and one thing only – getting a coveted invitation to Google+, Google’s first real legitimate competitor to Facebook. Within only two weeks of launching, the social network had garnered over 10 million users – no small feat, and soon some were predicting the demise of Facebook. Since then, the hype surrounding the new network has died down a bit. Although the number of users continues to grow, engagement on the site is relatively low. 

In the fall, Google+ expanded by launching brand pages, giving us marketers another way to interact and connect with customers online. The coming months (and years) promise even more developments from the online giant, including a complete integration of its social network site within its various applications. Only time will tell what happens. Will it succeed – or go the way of Google Buzz?

Mobile continues to get HUGE: Mobile marketing and communication has been on everyone’s lips for a while now, but it really took off last year. Maybe it was in part to smartphones taking up more of the market, or the increased use of tablets, but mobile is now the way we communicate and absorb information. In fact, recent studies show that we spend more time with our mobiles than reading print publications.

In the coming months, we’ll start seeing more mobile topics popping up, especially surrounding mCommerce (or the idea of using your mobile device to pay for things, like a wallet). This popular coffee shop already has a mCommerce application up and running. And speaking of mobile apps….

Applications got useful: The days of novelty mobile applications are a thing of the past. Today, mobile applications do more than just entertain us. Instead, they allow us to manage every aspect of our lives while we’re on the go. Personally, I use applications on my mobile phone and tablet to pay my credit card bill, deposit checks, check the weather, order pizza and track my running pace. Mobile apps designed strictly to entertain (or, to be more accurate, waste our time!) still take up a chunk of the market, but more companies are investing in mobile applications to help make their customers’ buying process easier on the go. 

Valuable content continued to get more relevant – and current. In 2011, Google made some pretty substantial changes to its algorithm – like this one. But that was nothing compared to the “freshness update”. 

Not familiar with it? Here’s the scoop: back in November, Google tweaked its algorithm to provide search results that were the most recent, current and “fresh”. While it’s no surprise that recent and current content is important for search results, it’s now more essential than ever – in fact, this algorithm change effects up to 35% of searches. Now more than ever, you need up-to-date content (think all content --  press releases, blogs, case studies, etc.) to show up well on the search engines. Some estimates put Google at almost 70% of online searches, well, you better get writing. 

Data will soon rule your life. Marketers are finally getting their heads wrapped around the amount of data they possess. Today, everything we do – from buying, to texting, to sharing on social media and searching online – creates massive amounts of data. This so-called Big Data is overwhelming to say the least – and until recently, we had no idea how to even begin using it. Now that we’re moving into 2012, marketers are learning how to aggregate, analyze and use it to understand customers, improve communication tactics and connect more effectively at every stage of the sales cycle. 

The last year has been a whirlwind of innovation in the online communication space. What other big changes have made a splash in your world?