mashable connect 2011 speaker Pete CashmoreI can scarcely remember a time in my professional life when I was as excited about an email as when I received the invitation to Mashable Connect 2011. This invitation-only event brought together 300 of some of the most influential digital leaders across a wide range of industries including marketing, consumer electronics, entertainment and more. This event allowed these thought leaders to make connections and exchange ideas about how brands, organizations and communities are connecting through innovation, social and digital tools.

The takeaways from this event are too many to quantify, but the central theme addressed by every speaker was that not only are big changes occurring in the social media space, but they’re happening at the speed of light.  Below are what I believe are 4 Important Branding Trends highlighted at this powerful event.

The Shift From Control to Collaboration
One of the most significant changes occurring in social media is the shift from control to collaboration.  The most successful marketers are giving up control and turning their consumers into “prosumers”.  These “prosumers” are taking control and driving the direction of the marketing campaigns through the use of social media outlets like facebook, twitter and youtube, among others.  A smart company will encourage consumers to engage in this social behavior, while monitoring and gently guiding its brand awareness.

The Shift from Buying Attention to Earning Attention
There was a time not long ago when consumer attention could be bought.  Today’s consumer is demanding more from the brands to whom they are loyal.  They’re making us earn it!  Brands are now being evaluated based on the company’s sense of social responsibility.  Social responsibility drives social media – being socially responsible leads to success in this social space.   Social media can and will take you down if you’re not careful.  Those who aren’t socially responsible and doing their share of social good will pay the ultimate price in the loss of brand loyalty.  Pay attention.

The Shift From “Who” to “Where”
With the emergence of the “smart” phone, IPad and other mobile devices came the shift from who to where.  85% of internet search queries are now location-based searches. Consumers are “checking in” at their favorite locations at record rates.  Marketers are being forced to drive their brands with location-based marketing initiatives.  Websites must function properly on mobile devices and smart brands are engaging their consumers in location-based contests and games.  Even non-profit organizations are becoming innovative with mobile.  In a recent Mashable article, Holly Ross, executive director of NTEN: The Nonprofit Technology Network discusses how 5 successful non-profit corporations are using mobile to promote their causes in very innovative ways.

The Shift from Profit to Purpose
Now, more than ever in history, it’s important for a company to stand for something more than profit.  The shift involves for-profit companies partnering with non-profits to promote a cause rather than a product, and brands who are riding this wave of social “do-gooding” are reaping the benefits through popularity in social networks. Not only are social networks growing exponentially in numbers, they’re growing equally as quickly in influence.  The collective voice of social media will be heard and the brands who are thriving during this poor economic climate are the brands who are listening to that collective voice.

For more marketing and branding tips from Mashable Connect 2011 and beyond, check out Mashable’s blog and stay tuned to ebootcamp for more information from inside the conference.