As we rapidly approach 2010, it's hard not to consider the implications of social media's banner year: 2009. Brands continue to adopt social media marketing practices just as fast as populations join social networks and utilizes social media sites. It has become fairly clear that the rapid adoption of this technology over the last year will certainly give rise to a number of trends in the coming years. Recently, David Armano wrote a very interesting blog post on the Harvard Business Blog outlining six social media trends for 2010. Here is a quick snapshot of the trends:
1. Social media begins to looks less social
2. Corporations look to scale
3. Social business becomes serious play
4. Your company will have a social media policy (and it might actually be enforced
5. Mobile becomes a social media lifeline
6. Sharing no longer means e-mail
Already we can see many of these trends taking shape from the number of sites incorporating sharing tools into their web pages to the rise of mobile applications. One trend, which I hope will result in more discussion, is the idea of social media becoming less social. David argues that with the advent of Twitter lists, the rise of niche social networks, and the clutter of web communication, people will begin to block out a majority of the social communication on the web. While in some ways this may be true, I believe that the social web will in fact be more personal (and therefore more relevant) rather than less social. For example, Twitter lists function on the same social principle as the platform yet they allow users to break groups of people into lists with a focus on relevant and valuable information. Niche social networks function on the same principle: a strong focus on relevant information for a certain type of contacts. Individuals are now taking on personal branding, and as every digital marketer knows - your customers are now their own publishers, and they have their own personal networks - and they are syndicated.
The important thing to focus on is the personalized nature of each of these components of the social web. People continue to find value in the web as a social communication platform, but users continually looking for a much more personalized experience. The implication of this trend is huge for marketers. In the past traditional marketing methods have generally been based around the one-to-many principle. Marketers worked hard to create a message that would have universal appeal to a mass target audience. This type of marketing worked well when the media was in fact one-to-many i.e. television, outdoor, print etc. Today, individuals use the web as an information source to research and maybe even connect with relevant products and services. Therefore, marketers must keep in mind that the browser is also a very one-to-one medium, capable of delivering a highly personalized experience for the user. Online audiences are already seeking out personalization with customized home-pages, Twitter lists, bookmarked and tagged websites, RSS readers etc. to filter out the clutter of the web. The social web will continue it's trend to becoming a more open communication platform, but tandem communications will need to become more personalized so that users will continue to see value in leveraging it. I predict in 2010 we will see more groundbreaking approaches with organizations utilizing social media to establish a valuable personalized relationship with the individual - on a mass scale.