As the Mindgruve gang dispersed over the holidays, we still had one job to do: Think about what will affect our industry most in 2010. When we all got back, we found our top three.

1. SEOcial Media
With the recent upgrades by Google and Bing to integrate Facebook and Twitter posts into search results, as well as the powerful new real-time and personalization functionality, creating a symbiotic relationship between SEO and social media will be key to getting results. With many clients already questioning the ROI of social media, this might confuse them even more, but here are some of the basics to get you started:

  • The bigger your social media presence, the more your links and content become available for search engines to aggregate.
  • The more frequently you update/interact on your social media – especially within popular/trending topics – the more likely you are to rise in the search results, including real-time results.
  • Monitoring micro-trends in your social media space will give you insights for adjusting your overall SEO strategy – providing your audience with more relevant and “clickable” results.

The list goes on, and as Google and Bing refine their new functionality, it will become more clear to how to make the most of it. For now, start thinking of your social media as an extension of your SEO efforts and vice versa.

2. Let’s Go GEO
What’s true in real estate is quickly becoming true in digital marketing: Location. Location. Location. The increased use of smart phones, localized search, geo tagging and augmented reality has opened the door to better access your target with relevant information, helping you find them, when they want you.

The area most likely for a boom of growth is the use of smart phones. Applications like FourSquare, Yowza and Yelp provide a location-based way to quickly find just about anything you’re looking for, as well as deals attached to it. Brand-specific apps like myStarbucks add another layer, offering store locators based on a variety of criteria and can alert other Starbucks fanatics of your whereabouts.

On top of that, Twitter is getting in on the act with it’s new geo tagging API. This means that geo tags will quickly be as important as #tags for joining conversations. Recent statistics by the National Retail Federation state that 60% of consumers will use social media to locate deals and coupons. Combine that with eMarketer’s finding that 45% of social network users in the U.S. will be accessing their social networks from their mobile devices, and we believe that location is quickly becoming a key component of conversions.

3. Micro Content Is Big Biz
We know, Twitter was already a big deal in 2009, but this year, people are actually going to figure out how to use it. Additionally, Twitter is in the process of rolling out several business friendly features.

Let’s start with the obvious. The new paid brand accounts offer something that has been lacking for most companies (and their marketing departments): user analytics and improved feed-back functions. These additions, along with rumored ad space, should make providing relevant tweets to your audience a lot easier. Based on who they are and what they tell you, your Twitter now provides unlimited uses, such as a perpetual newsletter, talent recruiting, product/service launches, customer support, niche group building and contests.

Speaking of contests, “Tweepstakes” have become a proven source for increased interaction. And according to a recent Razorfish study, special offers (like contests) drive engagement, “consumers not only want to engage with brands, but engaging with brands is having an inordinate effect on affinity for brands and the likelihood to purchase.” Additionally, “of those surveyed, 64% had made their first purchase from a company as a result of a digital interaction…”

Whether you like it or not, in 2010, Twitter will be a key player in garnering a dedicated audience and encouraging them to partake in your products and services.

Of course, these are just predictions. The only thing that we are 100% sure of is that the landscape we work in changes daily, if not hourly, and we will continue to do everything in our power to bring industry-leading brand, digital and social media successes to our clients. Happy 2010!