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Social Media Breakfast Ottawa is one of many amazing and educational Social Media events held in Ottawa every month. Social Media Breakfast Ottawa, which is often held at the Great Canadian Theatre Company on Wellington Street, is a monthly networking breakfast where marketers, PR pros, students, entrepreneurs and Social Media enthusiasts gather to meet and chat about the industry over coffee and breakfast. Every month the organizers invite a guest speaker to talk on various new and exciting Social Media trends and practices.

This month’s speaker is Toronto-based Dave Fleet, Vice President, Digital with Edelman Canada. Dave has extensive marketing and communications experience and is a leader in the Social Media community. This morning Dave spoke about Social Media trends and best practices for organizations.

Dave begins by warning the enthusiastic full house that he needs to get through 14 Social Media trends in 30 minutes – and that he is highly over caffeinated. And away he went.

Trend #1: Integration

Social Media does little for business if it is not integrated with other communication forms and business functions. Strategically plan and structure your Social Media across your silos and don’t be afraid to bring diverse work groups together to share intelligence across your organization. Social Media is growing and maturing and moving away from one of those “get me one of those” trends – it is now a necessity.

Trend #2: Social Customer Support

Organizations have begun to embrace Social Media for Customer Service. If you’re going to be in the social space, you cannot afford to ignore your audience. Engage, listen, converse and solve problems. Social Service has allowed companies to engage both proactively and reactively. Where possible, solve problems in public and always reward your third party advocates.

Trend #3: Death of the Campaign

Creating a one-time Social Media campaign and then killing it wastes time, effort and money. Organizations need to ditch the campaign thought process and embrace creating Social Media strategies. Think of your Social Media efforts as an ongoing process where you are building and sustaining your presence in the Social space.

Trend #4: Influence Matures

Influence has taken on a new definition – it is no longer the number of fans or followers you have, but the true value of those connections. In order to gauge influence you must consider the context and the spheres of your influence as well as your overall goals. Finally, don’t forget to measure your results and refine your approach.

Trend #5: Return of Websites

While it is important to be present and visible in Social Media, remember to always bring your audience back to your website. Social integration on your site is now expected by most customers – aTwitter feed, a Like button, a YouTube video. Some companies have even begun to incorporate Social data into their websites that tell visitors which items their friends “liked”, for example. Always be sure to design for functionality and form. Ask yourself “Does this work? Does this look good?” And finally, be cautious of privacy concerns when sharing Social data.

Trend #6: Democratization of Voice

Organizations need to have several people be their voice online, not just one. For large organizations, Social Media shouldn’t be 100% of 1 person’s job, but 1% of 100 people’s jobs. How do you make it all align? Develop boundaries and a set of guidelines for Social engagement to stay consistent. If you don’t trust the people within your organization that’s an HR problem, not a Social Media problem. You can never fully control the conversation, but you can influence it. Don’t hire interns, hire experience and train for success. Would you let an intern talk to the Globe and Mail? No. Then why do you let them represent your brand on a daily basis?

Trend #7: Digitally Driven Crisises

Organizations of naive and reactive. No one thinks that they will ever be in a crisis until they are. Think of the worst case scenario and plan for a crisis. If not, when it happens it will be too late. Keep an active eye on emerging issues, potential risks and practice your crisis solutions. If you can predict it, and are prepared for it, it’s not a crisis. It’s a bump in the road with a quick solution already in place.

Trend #8: Digital Curation

There is an upside and a downside to Social Media – anyone can create and publish anything. Some of it is good, some of it is bad. As the amount of content increases, organization can benefit from the good content. Establish yourself as a source of credible, trusted info in Social Media and identify a niche. Ensure that your content is meaningful.

Trend #9: Search Strategy

Think beyond SEM and SEO and factor Search into your Social Media, communications and content creation efforts. By optimizing these efforts for Search you will realize long-term benefit on short-term campaigns.

Trend #10: Measurement Matures

Similar to influence, PR and marketers have struggled with measurement for years. Impressions only tell a fraction of the story. This is changing. You must measure the outcomes of your activities, not the outputs. It is now essential to measure continuously from start to finish, and insist on including context with the numbers. Openly share this info across the organization, and tailor the reports to your audience – different people within your organization will care about different data.

Trend #11: Rise of the Content Strategist

Content creation and optimization is critical to the success of your Social Media efforts. Place your audience, not yourself, at the core of your content creation. Plan and develop a flexible content calendar and optimize based on past results. If something doesn’t work, stop doing it. Move on. Create interesting, captivating, shareable content that others will appreciate.

Trend #12: Listening Becomes Mandatory

If you’re not listening online, you’re going to lose. Your brand is being discussed. Are you monitoring what is being said? Formalize monitoring for your organization and establish processes to route and escalate conversations as needed. Expand your monitoring beyond your brand and extend it to a wider context.

Trend #13: Marketing in Streams

“What” and “Where” no longer answer enough questions – we need to start thinking about “When”. When is the best time to Tweet? Post on Facebook? Send Emails? Analyze your audience’s activity throughout the week. When do you get the most engagement? Try different strategies and see what works best and then post your content accordingly.

Trend #14: Location, Location, Facebook

2010 was supposed to be the year of Foursquare, but it never quite broke through and got over the hump. Probably because there was a huge elephant in the room – Facebook. They are now paying attention to location and are poised to capitalize on location-based marketing. In 2011 think LoSoPhoMo – Location, Social, Photo, Mobile. It’s time that location-based marketing brings digital and real world together. And always reward your advocates and loyal customers.

And with that, we were done. An interesting, education, thought provoking two-hour long presentation condensed down to 35 minutes. Fleet was amazing, and his thoughts and ideas were well accepted by the eager crowd. This Social Media Breakfast will go down as one of the best I have attended.

To learn more about Dave Fleet, follow him on Twitter, read his blog and connect with him on Linkedin!

Stay tuned for the next Social Media Breakfast Ottawa, May 18th at The Great Canadian Theatre Company (details to come)