Scott Monty - Strategic Communications & Leadership Advisor

Scott Monty - Strategic Communications & Leadership Advisor

I'm sure you've seen your fair share of social media predictions for 2010 by now. And while my posting is a little late, I hope I'm note treading too fine a line by waiting until 2010 hits before I make my predictions.

Before I get into what I think will be worth watching this year, let's see how well I fared with the results from the predictions I made for 2009. Those included:
  1. Twitter will continue to achieve legitimacy. Check. There's no question that Twitter became mainstream in 2009. I won't rehash all of the examples, but suffice it to say that when your local news outlets are suggesting you follow them on Twitter, it's mainstream.
  2. Online video will come into its own. Check. YouTube has started to show some signs of revenue generation, and Hulu was advertised during the Super Bowl. Video became more and more important in 2009.
  3. Customers insist on custoMEr service. Check. More interaction on Facebook pages, Twitter, Get Satisfaction and similar sites has customers looking for solutions wherever they can find it, not just via 800 numbers.
Okay, so where does that leave us for 2010? What new trends or changes from last year can we expect?

There's Power in (Smaller) Numbers

Although this new technology has allowed us to connect more quickly and more transparently across the globe, the collective cacophony is simply too much. It's impossible to actively see what all of your followers are saying on Twitter after you've topped 300 or so.

In 2010, I believe we'll begin to see a contraction of networked relationships. We saw a forced version of this last year with Burger King's Whopper Sacrifice, but the proliferation of "friends" on various platforms will have people rethinking the true reason they're involved in these places to begin with. So as users reassess who and why they're connecting, what will hold the most interest for them?

People still trust people like themselves; but the ones they know best are the ones they're most likely to trust. Therefore, it will be the people in their close networks - particularly from a geographic perspective - that will remain the closest. Brands will also realize that they can't be all things to all people, and will focus on those influencers who are the best fit for them.

Note I didn't say "those influencers with the most followers or the highest readership." Long ago, I noted the difference between the theories of Malcolm Gladwell and Duncan Watts, the latter of whom notes that it's the network, not the individual influencer, that makes a difference in how ideas are spread. Expect to see a focus on fewer and stronger relationships in our own networks and in influencer/media relations.

All Social Media is Local
This next trend is one that is relative to the above. The former Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill once famously said "All politics is local," meaning that ultimately, people care most about what's going on in communities around them. Social media is no different.

When you follow the recent rise of location-based services like Foursquare or Tripit, it's clear that people want to connect with others by location, as well as share experiences and seek recommendations by those who are well informed. And whether that means connecting in the communities in which they live or those to which they travel, people will begin to use more of these kinds of services. As an adjunct to location-based social networks, expect location-based search to blossom as well.

Related: see Matt Singley's post on Why Foursquare is the next Social Network.

Silent E
If you're of a certain generation in America, you may recall The Adventures of Letterman, a varsity-sweater wearing superhero who rescued victims of alphabet assault-and-battery by the Spellbinder. As Letterman appeared, the voice-over noted that he was "Stronger that a silent E..."

In this case, the E is for email. Yes, email, that seemingly forgotten poor stepchild of social media, that gateway to the online space, that workhorse of digital media. Email is alive and well and living in everyone's inbox. According to ShareThis, 46% of people share content by email - larger than any other social platform. And StrongMail's Social Influence Benchmark Report shows nearly 37% share by email, with 21% sharing by embedded badges.

When you add to this the fact that many in the mainstream still don't know what an RSS feed is or how to use an RSS reader (or that they simply don't use one), it's clear that email subscriptions still rule the roost. Not to mention that email is ubiquitous. It's just generally accepted that everyone has an email address. Despite the hype of social media and social networks as the latest way to connect, every single platform has a common denominator: you need an email address to register.

Expect to see a renewed effort on email marketing, with a nod toward integrating with social media applications and campaigns. With a good content strategy, email is simply the vehicle best suited to share the content.

Related: Users Still Sharing by E-Mail (eMarketer)

Other Trends
While I won't go into as much detail in these, keep your eyes on the mobile space, on fuller integration of PR and marketing, and more focus on quality content in 2010. Overall, the space will begin to show some signs of maturation, and will begin a future trend of being integrated as a part of day-to-day business in many organizations.

Oh, last year I also predicted that social media gurus would continue to self-promote. I see no need to change that this year. ;-)

How about you - any predictions or trends that you'd care to share? Drop a comment in below.

You might want to check out these related posts as well:
Brian Solis says that Mobile is the Next Frontier for Brand Engagement.
Pete Cashmore predicts 10 Web trends to watch in 2010.
eMarketer Weighs in on 2010 Trends and compiles a 2010 Roundup of Predictions
Chris Brogan looks notes that 2010 Will See Consolidations and Fold-ups
Forrester predicts 2010: The Year Marketing Dies
Read Write Web tell us about 10 Ways Social Media Will Change in 2010
MediaPost says that 2010 Is the Year Social Media Gets Serious

Photo credit: Stefan