Social media changes from month to month. Trends come and go quicker than the seasons change. The latest trendy site could be next year’s Myspace and the hottest new site probably hasn’t even been conceived yet or is at the couple of guys in a garage stage. Having said that there are some trends that I think will continue over the coming year and with that in mind I wanted to share them here. Rather than focusing in on the finer detail I have compiled the list below in broader terms with all the main players represented. All in all it should be an exiting year ahead in social media and these should be seven of the main trends…
This really has been the huge power house of online commerce in the last year. Services like Groupon have come on the scene in a big way (Even Microsoft entered the market today) and the idea behind it really is so simple that it makes you think “Why didn’t I think of that”. Like all kick ass ideas this one is incredibly simple and instantly understandable and there is something in it for everybody. The idea is nothing new but giving it legs through things like apps and the ability to share deals with friends makes the whole sector spread faster. Expect this to continue in a big way over the next couple of years with copy cat services and the big players rolling in to more territories and rolling out better and more extensive deals.
Question And Answer Sites
These sites are hardly new and have been around for years but a new range of social features and bigger audiences have seen existing sites and some innovative start ups make this an interesting space once again. The big boys like Facebook are rolling this out as we speak to their huge user base and will be making it front and center on profiles as they look to tap in to the collective knowledge of the site. Another innovative start up that is making some serious noise within the tech community is Quora which should break out in to the main stream this coming year. Collective knowledge is incredibly powerful and social media is making that knowledge easier to spread.
I was going to call this section location but I really do think the opportunities in this sector extend far beyond people checking in to bars for free coffee. There is no doubt that services like Foursquare, Gowalla and Facebook places will continue to grow and be adopted by a larger audience but I don’t even think the most exciting technologies have even been invented in this space yet. The best is yet to come. The really exciting thing to consider is what can be achieved with mobile advertising and with all the big players including Google and Apple trying to crack this market the real innovation has yet to come. People all over the world are walking around with mini computers in their hands and you can basically let your imagination run wild with the endless possibilities that offers to the social media industry.
Facebook have been dipping their toes in to the credits system of micro payments over the last 6 months by giving users free credits to help them get used to the system as well as doing a massive deal with Zynga to add the credits to their games. I strongly believe Facebook credits will become one of the defining moments in Facebook’s history and be the cash cow that drives them forward towards IPO. With Facebook taking a cut of the credits and brands and businesses scrambling to use them there really will only be one winner in all of this. Expect Facebook credits to be ubiquitous across the web within 2 years as people use the trusted platform to by all sorts of things.
Brands and businesses are starting to realize that one of the main ways of engaging their customers and offering value is to create content that enriches the user’s social media experience rather than just blasting messages out at them. With users starting to get more and more aware of ads and adding their own filters the smart brands will create bespoke content that engages users in a meaningful way and offers value. Building that content in to Facebook and other social sites while all hooking back to their own website will be crucial with video playing a more and more important role in the branded content play.
They sure are taking their time on this one but they are very much at the stage Facebook were 18 months ago when they just went on a land grab of users and made sure their service was as stable as possible. Twitter have started rolling out some monetization features like promoted tweets but they haven’t really come in with the hard sell just yet. I’d expect Twitter to keep focusing on growth for the best part of the next year before switching on the revenue in a major way just like Facebook are at the moment.
Google To Keep On Failing
I don’t care how many people Google hire or companies they buy they are always going to struggle in the social media space. They don’t have it in their DNA as a company to be social as far as I can see and Facebook just keep pushing further and further ahead anyway. Google have had big launches with Wave and Buzz over the last year and even though they are giving Google Me a bigger push and dedicating more resources to it than ever I just don’t see it being a big success. Where I do see them having success is in the social games sector because I think their portal for this along with some of their acquisitions have been very shrewd. Expect another disappointing year for Google in the world of social media.