10 +1 Trends and changes for the social web 2010

1) Twitter becoming the leading NEWS system
Twitter will change quite dramatically. It will become the world’s dominant News aggregator and distributor. As such the personal «chit chat» will get more and more just background noise and some of the Twitterer will look for alternatives. But for every leaving tweople 50 new ones will join. Twitter users were the social media avant-garde – that will change and twitter user will be the masses. That will finally lead to a business model that may have been always there 😉 Twitter may become the final nail on the publishers’ coffin.

2) Advertising avalanche
while we argue and am disappointed about all the advertising that gradually moves into the social web, we will experience an avalanche that may almost break the social web. With a soon aggregate number of a Billion users, it will be the most sought after place to advertise for the almost 1 Trillion $ advertising industry. Google will make substantial changes to their advertising model to not only participate but lead the intrusion of the space. Advertising will get more and more subtle – not the primitive sponsored links saying «buy my stuff» but highly sophisticated «targeting» based on an omnipresence social graph of close to 1 Billion individuals. Automated yet individual adds based on our own profiles, friends…. Anecdote: On facebook my wife was introduced to me as a hot chick in my neighborhood.

3) LinkedIn’s break through
LinkedIn was always not very social. Managed with an iron fist in regards to: what user can and cannot do, how you get to other people’s data and more. But exactly that behavior will pay off as users compare the platforms they want to deal with. Already LinkedIn gains 10 times as many new users then the European Xing – in part because Xing became a social version of Craig’s List without the business benefits. It will be up to the group managers who manage the professional discussion groups, whether or not the qualities of the posts keep up with the expectation but there are already good indicators that many will. And as businesses finally find their ways and strategies into the social web, LinkedIn will grow more than average. That may lead to the actual break through – unless they come up with yet another management change.
4) The Social Business
Businesses will enter the social web – but this time not with «social media marketing» but with a rather cohesive customer experience strategy where social media is only an underpinning for the strategy. What many people won’t believe, companies will change their culture – simply because they have to. «Who says elephants can’t dance» may come to mind. Of course this will not be true for the majority of companies, not in 2010 – but the leaders will surprise with models that will please a large portion of their customers. The more social business will span across the companies departments including service, product management, sales, HR, procurement & logistics and marketing. The «let go» strategy as indicated by Cisco’s John Chamber in an interview with Washington Post will be turned into reality. Primary benefits for the consumer will be better access to services and knowledge, a saying in the product development and product road maps, faster access to other customers to share and accelerate learning and similar benefits. Advocacy for a brand and its team will be the biggest return on investment – which actually will demonstrate measurable decrease in sales and marketing cost.
5) IT Department conquer the Social Web
Finally IT Departments will be confronted with the social web. Vendor driven initiatives to invest in Social CRM may overshadow the good intent to make a company more social and instead make it more complicated. Heated and controversial discussions around sCRM will help IT managers defend their security concepts, data integrity and data privacy models and more reasons not to connect with the outside world more than necessary (from an IT point of view). Department managers in sales, marketing, service… will again need to fight and circumnavigate IT like they did in the 90’s when Internet came into businesses or in the 80’s when Personal Computers dared to push mainframes and minis aside. With an all new culture and new processes required by the market, new systems will enter the corporations. This time open systems, directly connected to and with the market and democratization of information will consequently end up in democratization of data. Again this will not be true for the majority of companies as most wait and see what the leaders do and then just follow but this IT shift will be very notable in 2010.

6) The end of Social Media Marketing
After hundreds and thousands of “Social Media Marketing” attempts to push the message in this new “channel”, businesses will realize that this is not very successful and not resonating with the target group that is supposed t be “attracted: not “annoyed”. Unfortunately even so many did it right it will be overshadowed by the failures. Social Marketing instead will have a fine but notable difference: “Media” is out of the equation. What maybe semantics for some may be an important difference for others. Social marketing will change the way social media is used in marketing. The focus on social will bring sales and marketing closer than ever (OK it is an old dream and may never happen) but at least the social interaction model with the market only can work if the marketing part and the executing sales part is in synch. The biggest change will be noted by companies refraining to overly advertise their wares – knowing that a customer satisfaction can never be reached by not keeping the promises.

7) Social Mobility Evolution
In 2010 mobile devise page views will be similar or even higher than computer based page views. The only issue: they are not measured – just estimated. But this will come as a wakeup call to many product and content provider to adjust their strategies. Social mobility will more than ever demonstrate that the lines of corporate strongholds (offices) will more and more vanish away. I think it will be interesting to watch that it will not be “the final break through for the home office” but unleash a whole new concept of the distributed enterprise. A new version of outsourcing will make way to a collaborative engagement with the hundreds of thousands of experts in all kinds of industry field who just don’t want to be hired as an employee any longer but work as an individual contractor. The missing link, the social bond, will further shortened with social media.
8) Social media denial
The dark side of the social media evolution may lead to denial in a larger order. I expect Google engaging in a rather substantial opening of social graph information in a similar way as it made books publically available opening up very controversial copyright discussions. Social networks like Facebook or LinkedIn for that matter who subscribe to the OpenSocial concept will pay some price for that by losing users. However the critical users will be outnumbered by a flood of those followers who finally enter the social web simply because everybody else does without digging deep into the consequences of privacy concerns – or the lack thereof. Primarily the very early adopters of social media who claim for them they made it all happen will be massively frustrated in 2010.
9) Listening 2.0 & Monitoring
Listening, in particular listening to customers will have a new dimension in 2010. What started in 2008 with interesting monitoring systems will come to a boom in 2010. Mass-Listening to better understand what customers saying, what the sentiment of the discussion is and what companies need to learn from that information will contribute to the entrance of businesses in the social web. Finally there are measurable results, that lead to actionable items. Listening will also no longer be the old way of listening to a person in a conversation but listening the relevant people in an ongoing manner – using monitoring software that works 24x7x365. It will surface what is really on their customers’ mind and will answer questions no survey can answer – all in real time. Also in 2010 it will again bring up the question of “too much transparency”. It will suggest don’t say anything anymore because not only it could be found – now it is actively watched for. See social media denial.
10) Social convergence
One of the biggest, most promising and most stupid trends of 2010 is the convergence of social with everything else. Starting with stupid, I’m sure we will see more and more things social. It started with Social CRM, we may see Social ERP, maybe social office and even things like a social washing machine – it talks to you and tells you who else in your neighborhood is washing jeans right now. But social media will more and more converge with other social activities like co-participating in online events where an online participant can share their emotions with the physically present participant, we see this already today happening. We will see a lot of announcements of social convergence like FINALLY integrating the user voice into the TV channels or further more integration into mobile devices where I can see if any of my contacts is in my vicinity.

11) Tools and gadgets
Social media is unique in many ways. One is that in all technical evolutions the gaming industry led the development. That was true for processors, memory, graphics cards… Not really in Social Media. OK MMORPG games are as old as social media – but only in 2010 we will see a more dramatic breakthrough of the gaming industry into the social world.
Twitter will become finally the pace maker for application interfaces. Unlike the thousands of gadgets on Facebook, the more than 2,000 applications for Twitter are actually integrated applications – more than twice as many as for Salesforce.com in just 2 years.
Real time gadgets will become more and more important to see people online here and now as well as contextual search gadgets.
Search engines haven’t changed in the past 10 years. The only thing search engine providers cared about was advertising. An ironic parallel to publishers who after they discovered the advertising model cared less and less about independent content. Context, relationship and geo based search may redefine search already in 2010 and drill a big hole in the old search engine provider.
A lot of tools for the business social web will be developed and surface in 2010, maybe even more than for what we have today.
I guess social networks will NOT consolidate in 2010. The diversity of individuals, their needs and conversations, geographic and cultural relations as well as contextual focus will actually bring more social networks than ever to the surface.
The disaster with online communities will go in 2010 business will want to create them, then find out it is really work and the communities will die out 6 month later. Way too many of the 1.8 Million Ning communities are empty. But this is not Ning’s fault their community is as good as any other but people still don’t know how to run them and that will continue in 2010.
In 2010 the trend of this year will further solidify itself. The leading trio is Twitter LinkedIn Facebook, at least when it comes to business. While MySpace reports higher numbers of users, on the business side we can’t identify any significance from the MySpace side. And while not really a social network YouTube’s relevance in the mix will be increasingly important as a media to introduce, explain, teach, communicate. Yet the most active trigger to point to the YouTube clips will remain to be through the TLF group.
LinkedIn Groups will go through a big test in 2010. It’s the good old quality or quantity discussion. But not so much because of anything LinkedIn does but because what group owners will do. It is either “I want to have the biggest group” (for whatever reason) “and I don’t care what people post” – or “I am going to carefully monitor the posts and try to keep a high degree of discussion quality” – not necessarily censoring the discussion but the level of advertising.
Yes there will be some but they won’t be new in 2010 if anyone would be able to talk about it in 2009. However managing social relationships in the overwhelmingly complex social web will be some that will surface in 2010. Maybe we see attempts to replace email – not because email is bad but because spam effectively destroyed it and no anti spam software ever managed to fix the problem. My personal goal – be off of email by end of 2010 – personally I’m off already but next year also business wise.

(my social map)

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