Social Media Predictions for 2009
This past year saw a meteoric rise in the role of social media in day-to-day life. So we now play the age-old guessing game: What's Next?
What was once the domain of online gamers and students has become a well-trodden stomping ground for just about everyone with an Internet connection, or so it would seem.
It's not that all sorts of new communications platforms sprang full-grown from the web's forehead- far from it. Facebook, Myspace, and their ilk had been around for a while- for years, in fact- before you and I heard of them. This year we're seeing the same thing with stuff like Twitter. Last year, it was that weird, broken site that sent you SMS messages. This year, every news source worth its salt has been forced to actively leverage Twitter, or at least acknowledge its existence, love it or hate it. NowPublic is no exception, though social media has always been part and parcel of what we do: We've introduced Scan, with which we take the pulse of the microblogosphere when and where appropriate.
So, what's next?
Facebook will become a self-contained e-commerce portal.
Third-party apps are proving proof-of-concept: that people will do business via Facebook. To be viable, though, there'd have to be more privacy, so the whole world (or your world of contacts) won't see when you spend $50 on adult DVDs.
The main obstacle is trust, and Facebook can do an end-run around that by virtue of its ubiquity: those of us who are used to rolling coins will wait to make sure it's totally safe, while those who've been using Facebook, like, since they were in Junior High will be more willing to do business via little blue modals, since it'll seem so normal.
Somewhat connected to the e-commerce thing: More people will use Facebook for business, despite the complaints of LinkedIn purists. This will be particularly true for jobs that don't require neckties.
Twitter will get sold.
I'm not saying that Twitter will find a way to successfully monetize... I'm just saying that Twitter will get sold. The value of a web property is based in large part upon emotion, and Twitter is really feeling the love these days. The owners will choose to sell while everyone's talking about how useful it is for just about everything, before they start griping once again about the outages.
Myspace will finally fizzle.
This one's kind of mean, but what can I say? Myspace was the first really big multimedia social media site, and it still has advantages over Facebook for artists who want an online portfolio-headshot-showreel to hand out. However, Myspace is too heavily compromised by advertisers and spam pages, and the serious artists will go elsewhere. Hosting is far less expensive than it used to be, and building a basic, servicable website without resorting to clip-art is easier than ever. For the aspiring superstar, $100 a year for hosting and domain name will be a small price to pay for fast pageloads, a clean look, and a catchy URL. I'm surprised this hasn't happened to a larger extent this year, but hey.
If you strike The Consumerist down now, it will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.
The Consumerist may be on Gawker's chopping block, but its ethos has spread, and has also become far easier to impliment.
Twitter, Utterli, Identi.ca, and others will become de facto CRMs, as customers rant and rave about their shopping experiences. This won't be due to any active push by the services themselves, but a group effect brought about by users. Darryl (below) refers to companies' engagement in this effect as "online reputation management", which is exactly right: customer service will have to become more proactive.
I'll add to this as inspiration strikes, or as I pull another prediction out of my... back pocket. What do you think will be the big social-media news for 2009? There's a big comment box below, just waiting for your Nostradamus-like predictions.