Social Media in 2009 – Our Predictions
This time of year seems to be the traditional time for bloggers and industry analysts to make their predictions of how the coming year will treat their chosen field of interest. Being a bit slow-on-the-uptake this year due to being so horrendously busy, I might have missed the boat a bit here – numerous bloggers have already made predictions for Social Media in 2009. But I'm going to make a few anyway, as I like to see what happens in the year and see how close I was – or how off the mark, more likely!
Prediction 1 – This is a bit of a controversial one, since everybody else seems to be saying the contrary, but I think that 2009 will see everyone get completely bored of Twitter. I know I'm probably going to get flamed in a blaze of glory for saying it, but I've still yet to see anyone using Twitter in a way that makes it anything other than a glorified RSS reader. People copy and paste their status updates from other networks, or set Twitter to automatically read their blog updates, or if they're like me they log in once a week when they remember to and write something mildly interesting. But nobody has stunned me with their innovation yet, and I think that we're running out of time before people just realise that the king is completely naked and move on.
Prediction 2 – Again, I'm going a bit against the grain here, but I think that 2009 will see MySpace having to completely rebrand and refocus itself – maybe even becoming a more niche social network. I know that technically MySpace still IS a niche network, targeting the music and comedy community in particular, but despite a few facelifts I get the feeling that MySpace have completely taken their foot off the pedal lately, consigning themselves to a second or third place after Facebook and maybe Bebo. Eventually, people are going to get so tired of MySpace that they'll be forced to refocus (some people are predicting death, but I can't see the Murdoch people letting that happen without a fight).
Prediction 3 – This is a bit of a common theme amongst all the predictions coming out, but I agree that 2009 will see the emergence of one or two killer profile-consolidation tools. People like me, who have multiple profiles on multiple networks would absolutely love a tool that allows you to update all of them at the same time – and it won't be long before Facebook Connect or the Google equivalent spawns a tool which allows for this to happen.
Prediction 4 – I've got my marketing hat firmly on with this one, when I predict that 2009 will see Social Media marketing getting a lot easier with proven ROI and numerous success stories. 2008 seems to have been the year when everybody KNOWS that Social Media marketing is the way forward, but nobody has been brave enough to put their cards on the table and share ROI or success stories. 2009 will see this finally happen, and once the flood gates open it'll be a job to hold back the tide.
Prediction 5 – This one has been coming for a while now, but I think 2009 will be the year when online video takes over the world. YouTube claim that ten hours of video is being uploaded to their servers every single minute – recent deals with the big distributors are paving the way for YouTube and sites like it to become the first point of call for any video at all – BBC iPlayer has been one of the massive success stories of 2008 as well, and this isn't a coincidence. I might even go as far as to predict that by the end of 2009, TV shows will be getting their first play on YouTube in some cases…
Prediction 6 – Regular readers will know what a fan of Facebook I am, so I'm not going to put too much about the Social Network of choice in my predictions. However, I will happily predict that Facebook will reach 250 million active users by the end of 2009 and that could be being conservative. Considering Facebook has doubled their US numbers during 2008, and currently has 140 million users worldwide, I don't think that prediction is too out-there.
Prediction 7 – I think we're moving towards this already, but haven't quite reached it yet – but I think that 2009 will see at least 1 major UK newspaper offer up ALL their content in a variety of formats – RSS'ed text, audio podcasts and where appropriate, video. Being able to download an entire paper in audio form to your iPod would be a massive coup for a publisher, and for an advertiser it presents a whole new raft of ways to advertise to consumers.
Prediction 8 – With the current financial climate looking set to continue on in to at least the next year, we can be almost certain that 2009 will see big fish continuing to buy up small fish. The Yahoos and Googles of the world will snap up some bargain web 2.0 site – I've heard talk of a few other big players getting in to the Social Networking space too, with a certain world-famous ecommerce site considering a social network purchase in 2009…
Prediction 9 – With the wealth of "employee gets sacked after drunken photos ended up on Facebook" stories still doing the rounds, I think that Privacy will be the buzz word of 2009. Users of social networks are going to get wise to the amount of privacy customisation they can do, and security will be better because of it. People are also going to start pruning their friend lists to get rid of the dross too – not just friends that you don't really like, but friends that you definitely don't know – a friend you don't know is a definite security risk in this day and age, and people will realise that soon.
So, that's my predictions – some of them are wilder than others I'm sure you'll agree. How many of them will come true? Well, as usual for my posts, all I can say is "only time will tell!" : )