If you invested time, money, or both, in social media, online marketing and search engine optimisation throughout 2010 then you can look forward to reaping the rewards of that investment throughout what already looks like being a great year ahead for businesses, especially those with an online presence.

But if you didn’t spend a great deal of time grabbing social marketing and online brand awareness by the horns and making it work hard on behalf of your business, then perhaps 2011 is the year when your business turns the corner and starts benefiting from the 24 hour, 7 days a week 365 days a year torrent of traffic looking for somewhere interesting and relevant to go.

For many people the main reason cited as far as justifying little or no significant social media marketing or online marketing is that it’s simply too difficult, too complicated and too time consuming trying to keep up with the many changes going on.

Do you opt for Reddit or Digg? With Reddit growing 230% last year at the expense of Digg it can seem as though choosing which media platform to prioritise is more of a gamble than a business decision, although one might argue that all business is gambling – albeit a very calculated form of gambling.

The numbers quoted by various social media platforms are staggering! With over 500 million users on Facebook, and quotations ranging anywhere from 75 million to 190 million users on Twitter, 50 million on LinkedIn, and with 4 billion images being shared on Flickr and mobile platforms exploding thanks to the continuing rise in popularity of products such as iPhones, iPads, tablets and other mobile computing devices.

So where do you turn? Do you just pick a number, any number, and jump right in? Or is there more to social media and online marketing than just pop luck, random guesswork and the hope that any action will do, as long as you’re swimming in the right pool of water you’re bound to catch a few fish?

Indeed there is a great deal more to effective and productive social marketing, and it’s important to bear in mind the business perspective of all this – including return on investment. There’s no point spending hours and days on social marketing and online marketing if you hardly see any real difference. On the other hand it’s quite possible, doing things the right way, to spend just a few minutes and see a torrent of traffic.

Yes, there’s sometimes an element of luck and chance, but the best online marketers make their own luck. Jumping off a 100 foot cliff and surviving may be luck, but jumping off a 100 foot cliff with a parachute and a duvet warehouse at the bottom is making your own luck.

So what are the top tips for 2011? How are online marketers and social media experts going to be making the web work harder for them throughout the next twelve months?

Clearly the web, and social media platforms, change so rapidly that it simply isn’t possible for anyone, no matter how skilled, to make any hard and fast predictions for what will happen this year. Maybe Facebook will collapse, maybe Twitter will start making a profit, maybe Google will be overtaken by Bing and maybe spam will be eliminated entirely. All somewhat unlikely – but that’s one of the fascinating things about the web these days – it’s just so dynamic it’s anyone’s guess.

Maybe we’ll see a new online service launched to rival all of those names – perhaps it will be your business or your idea which becomes the hot topic of 2011? But to be in with a chance it’s worth looking at some of the current trends, and riding the wave into the new year, giving you at least a good chance of success. Over the next few days and weeks we’ll be giving you a few ideas for ways in which you can turbo charge your business, blasting into 2011 with vigour, and your own brand of luck.  Here’s to your online success in 2011!

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