At the beginning of the month I was asked to speak at a panel that discussed Social media, Social Networks and “What’s Coming Up Next”. In research for this discussion, I came up with a few insights on what I foresee coming up next in the world of social media.

Here are my top 10 insights:

1) The physical and digital worlds will be more highly connected than ever before – already today we are able to run in the park and track our progress online while sharing it with our friends or track our weight loss, or even our ovulation (well, some of us, that is) with iPhone apps that connect to our Facebook and twitter profiles and enable us to keep track of our progress as well as share the data with our friends. Robert Scoble had a brilliant presentation on this topic at the last TNW Conference in Amsterdam. You can see it here.

2) Facebook, Twitter and other major social networks will become increasingly what Fred Wilson coins “Social Dashboards”. In essence, Facebook and Twitter are social channels on which other companies can grow and develop their own technologies and businesses. Both Facebook and Twitter have created economies far larger than many nations. Take for example, companies like Stocktwits, Tweetdeck and Zynga, (amongst others) that have gained huge profits “piggybacking” on these two platforms.

3) Until now, brands have been very concerned with bringing as many people as possible to their pages. Consumer brands can now finally reap the fruits and build social commerce stores where Facebook users (all 700 Million of them) can purchase products on their favorite social network without needing to go to any destination site. Facebook will become one of the major channels of future online shopping.

4) Companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon are currently collecting information about each any every one of us: Our likes and dislikes, our interests and disdains. Soon in an age of Web 3.0, an age of Semantic Web, we will no longer need to search for information on the Web as information will find us based on all this data which companies are collecting. The right information will be served to the right people at the right time, saving us all a lot of time, effort and energy.

5) Mobile technology will become more dominant and NFC technology will be developed further enabling it to offer us special promotions, coupons and tips based on our geographical location and the interest graph we discussed in insight #3.

6) Human Relationships will no longer be as physically dependent and we will befriend and hang out with people from all over the world and all walks of life, all ethnicities and all beliefs, creating a worldwide melting pot.

7) We will no longer be passive media consumers. Media will interact with us in dynamic ways on all platforms. Just like gamers playing WOW today, we will all become a part of a virtual world unknown to us yet where we will all be avatars in the game of life.

8 ) As the Web is overloaded with more information, the content that we are exposed to will become more and more customized to our needs as companies will large sums of money to companies like Facebook and Google, making sure that the information we are exposed to is highly targeted to our interests. Rather than experiencing information overload, we will actually experience the opposite effect.

9) Companies will understand better how to measure the ROI of social media and realize that social media is not about the number of people brands have in their communities but rather the amount of engagement that they see on their page and the overall online sentiment they faced this month as opposed to the last. See Gary Vaynerchuk’s response to how companies should measure the ROI of social media in the video link above.

10) Services will become increasingly crowdsourced. Whether it be the way that we get from point A to point B (Waze), the way that we find answers to our questions (Quora), the manner in which we test our Websites (uTest), the way that we get things done (Fiverr) or the way that we share information (Wikipedia).
All of these insights are of course complete speculations based on my years of experience in the world of social media and following of trends occurring all over the digital space. Do you agree with these speculations? Is anything missing? What do you think is coming up next in social media?