This time last year, I wrote about the 10 ways social media will change 2009, and while all predictions have materialized or are on their way, it has only become clear in recent months how significant of a change we've seen this year. 2009 will go down as the year in which the shroud of uncertainty was lifted off of social media and mainstream adoption began at the speed of light. Barack Obama's campaign proved that social media can mobilize millions into action, and Iran's election protests demonstrated its importance to the freedom of speech.
This guest post was written by Ravit Lichtenberg, founder and chief strategist atUstrategy.com - a boutique consultancy focusing on helping companies succeed. Ravit authors a blog at www.ravitlichtenberg.com.
Today, it is impossible to separate social media from the online world. Facebook reached 350 million users last month -- 70% of whom are outside the US -- and it accounts for 25% of the Web's traffic, according to Pew nearly one in five people on the web use Twitter or some other service to check status messages, and 94% of enterprisesplan to maintain or increase their investment in enterprise social media tools. The social media conversation is no longer considered a Web 2.0 fad -- it is taking place in homes, small businesses and corporate boardrooms, and extending its reach into the nonprofit, education and health sectors. From feeling excitement, novelty, bewilderment, and overwhelmed, a growing number of people now speak of social media as simply another channel or tactic.
So what will social Web bring next? What will "being connected" mean? What will the next experience be for the 2 two billion people who are connected to the Internet? Here are 10 ways what we've called social media will evolve in 2010.
Social Media Will Become a Single, Cohesive Experience Embedded In Our Activities and Technologies
By this time next year, social media will no longer be "social media" -- it will be an integrated, unquestionable component of your online and offline experience. Last year we spoke of cross-platform integration across media sites. Open APIs and OpenID made that possible, and even LinkedIn announced last month that it too will finally open its APIs. 2010 will be about integration and a single, cohesive experience across platforms as well as across products and devices -- Web, mobile, TV, and video -- will become near-inseparable experiences.
Users will access content from any device or platform, co-create and mashup their photos, videos and text with traditional content while interacting with each other. Publishers will create new kinds of content for the connected world, and the last years' lull in good entertainment will finally be lifted. This trend will cut across all of our activities -- from playing games to shopping to emailing and texting -- nothing will be lost; everything we do will be gathered and streamed together, allowing people to view their world of activities as if it were projected in front of them, open to change, review and input at any point in time from any device or online tool.
Social Media Innovation Will No Longer Be Limited By Technology
With Web technology maturing and the near-elimination of previous barriers such as closed platforms and discrete logins, companies will now look to innovate the way they use existing technology, rather than focus on technology enhancements themselves. We will see a move to leverage existing assets -- content and capabilities -- in new ways, turning information to wisdom and insight to action. Whereas once user research required focus groups and usability tests, companies will utilize the Web's capabilities to achieve the same. Naturally occurring conversations will be utilized in product innovation and design, and companies will create incentives for people's attention and engagement while repurposing and analyzing content and engagement in new ways that will deliver valuable input.
Mobile Will Take Center Stage
Worldwide, the iPhone alone accounts for about 33% of mobile web traffic and IDC predicts the number of mobile web users will hit one billion by 2010. As the technological barriers come down, people will increasingly use their phones on-the-go to access social networks, search, read content and find location-based information. Our phones will be used as a central hub and beacon -- enabling a slew of new capabilities and experiences.
Expect an Intense Battle As People and Companies Look To Own Their Own Content
2009 marked the year of open Web, and divergence of content, making content available anywhere, anytime, by anyone and to everyone; it was the year content exploded across the web, platforms and devices. The issue Google solved so magically -- content find-ability -- will become all but moot in the coming years. Instead, content relevance and quality will become the key focus. In 2010 we will start to see convergence as companies take measures to own their own content, its location and its cost. Last month, Rupert Murdoch announced he may opt News Corp out of Google, instructing it to de-index its publications from the search engine and giving exclusive rights to Bing for a fee. This means that content publishers will be able to determine where they make their content available and at what cost.
With the growth of user generated content and the dwindling relevance of search results, people will gradually shift their trust from large aggregators like Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, and move to searching and finding content at specific locations and, eventually, creating and integrating their own content hub into the rest of their personal digital experience. "People don't realize that everything they do -- on Facebook, Ning, Google and with their credit cards -- is being collected, tracked, analyzed, owned and monetized by these companies who provide (so-called) free services. It's not a healthy model." Says John Faber, COO of af83, a Drupal development house and co-founder of the upcoming DrupalCon.
Enterprises Will Shape the Next Generation of What We've Called "Social Media"
It was easy to forget that enterprises and large institutions are the originators of some of social media's pillars: listservs, forums, intranets and collaboration tools. As social media became a public domain, enterprises have been cautious participants, predominantly in the product space, with few visionary leaders like Zappos, IBM and Dell. But cautionary they are no more. With a reported average of 25% increase in funds allocation toward social media activities, in 2010 we will see a surge in adoption of social media across product, services and solutions companies.
Having the need and the funds, enterprises will determine the next generation of social experiences. They will push enhancements that meet their needs, specifically around monitoring, automation, alignment with the sales cycle and integration with existing systems, expanding social "media" to encompass the ecosystem of social computing across solutions, and making them actionable for the company. Jive, blueKiwi, Remindo and Sharepoint support companies internally. Most recently, Salesforce.com released Chatter, designed to turn the corporation, and CRM, social. With its APIs opening later this year, "Chatter can become a new layer over its Force platform, already being used by 68,000 customers, enabling companies and developers to leverage the Salesforce infrastructure in a secure environment," said Bruce Francis, VP corporate strategy Salesforce.com.