Social Media Predictions For 2010

With the first decade of the new century and new millennium coming to a close, its time to look forward at some of the prognostications that several of today's visionaries have divined from their social media crystal balls.

These predictions are meant to be thought-provokers more than a specific road map, and derive from an eclectic assembly of thought leaders,entrepreneurs and folks who are in the trenches every day dealing with the evolution of social media in our very many global neighborhoods.

Based on this research, I have also added findings from my own humble analysis that supports, questions and occasionally disputes some of these predictions.

Southeast Asia, Next Social Media Hotspot

Jimmy WalesJimmy WalesJimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia thinks the most important changes ahead will be forged by the “next billion people coming online, mainly in India and China.” He discussed the cross-cultural impacts as people from various backgrounds, cultures, and linguistic heritages “mix and match in amazing ways.”

In Southeast Asia, it has been the year of Facebook. The world’s leading social network has overtaken former leader Friendster in markets including Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.

This year I interviewed Shane Lennon, senior vice president of marketing for GyPSii, a location-based social network. On this topic, he noted that their company has "secured relationships with China Telecom and China Mobile." According to Lennon, "while social networks are built around the premise of who you know (a rather limiting force)," he sees "more of a future and one that’s playing out in China right now - that connects people (based) on where they are located." (see more on the topic of location-based networks below).

Web 2.0 Attacks & Political Tension

In a recent Websense report, it was noted that Web 2.0 attacks will increase in sophistication and prevalence. In the coming year, their analysis suggests that there will be a greater volume of spam and attacks on the social Web and real-time search engines such as, Google and In 2009, researchers have seen increased malicious use of social networks and collaboration tools such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and Google Wave to spread attackers’ wares. Spammers’ and hackers’ use of Web 2.0 sites have been successful because of the high level of trust users place in the platforms and the other users.

On August 6, I reported on Twitter's announcement that it was "defending against a denial-of-service" attack which was initiated when hackers commanded a whole army of computers to attack a particular site. As the story played out we learned that this attack was based on a very old turf dispute between Russia and Georgia. In my estimation, it is clear that social networking will become a new battleground for opposing forces around the globe to threaten and harass each other. This coupled with the Iranian Election Protests, I predict that more of this these types of global tensions will bubble up over into the social media space in 2010.

The Growing Popularity of eReaders

Sarah Rotman EppsSarah Rotman EppsJames McQuiveyJames McQuiveyAccording to Sarah Rotman Epps and James McQuivey of Forrester Research, eReaders will get apps, too. "As anyone with an iPhone knows, apps are where the magic happens: They make the device infinitely more useful." iRex Technologies, which has a B2B e-reader business in Europe and is launching its first consumer-targeted e-reader in the U.S, will release an SDK (software development kit) so that software developers can make their own apps for the iRex DR800SG. Rotman and McQuivey said they "wouldn’t be surprised to see Amazon launch a Kindle app store, too, including anything from a social-reading app from Goodreads to an enterprise app from Microsoft or Oracle would make e-readers vastly expand the possibilities for consumers and businesses."

As far as the iPhone replacing the Kindle, there is evidence to indicate the contrary.  While the "Kindle for iPhone" is a possibility, particularly since a user doesn't have to purchase another expensive device, the iPhone's small screen is cumbersome. My research indicates that for the voracious reader, the Kindle’s size and feel is more comparable to the book reading that many of us have grown accustomed to. Its advantage over an actual book is its light-weight and the ability to store hundreds of books in one self-contained device.

Magazine and Newspaper Apps

Sarah Rotman Epps and James McQuivey have also weighed in on magazine and newspaper publishers launching their own apps and devices. "Magazine and newspaper publishers aren’t satisfied with the way their content looks and functions on the Kindle and Sony Readers—they want color, video, interactivity, the ability to sell ads and control the subscriber relationship." Old media moves slowly, but in 2010 we’ll see them crawling towards some solutions. Time Inc.‘s John Squires is spearheading an effort to get other magazine publishers together in a joint venture, which would sell access to digital versions of their magazines that could be consumed on portable devices.

In November, I reported on ZenNews and its Zensify life-streaming app that provides a cutting-edge analysis of the latest breaking news stories from sources in real-time using a "tag cloud" visualization technology. All articles are available to read as click-thrus and include news from acclaimed news sources such as the The Guardian, AlJazeera, CNN and the NY Times.

Location-Based Social Networks

Pete CashmorePete CashmorePete Cashmore from Mashable recently reported in his CNN column, that "Fueled by the ubiquity of GPS in modern smartphones, location-sharing services like Foursquare, Gowalla, Brightkite and Google Latitude are suddenly in vogue...with Foursquare (potentially becoming) the breakout services of the year ... provided they're not crushed by the addition of location-based features to Twitter and Facebook."

Cashmore also believes that "location is not about any singular service; rather, it's a new layer of the Web. Soon, our whereabouts may optionally be appended to every Tweet, blog comment, photo or video we post."

In a recent report I published titled, "l," my claim is that the potential of LBS lies in the hands of the major players who have been developing this technology for the last couple of years.

Whether or not ‘location’ becomes the must-have service for Twitter and Facebook to entertain and potentially absorb will most likely be based on monetization. And based on the forecasted numbers around the globe, it looks like location-based social networks are scaling fairly well in that arena - with Foursquare out front, not only striking deals with developers and new apps but also with restaurants, bars and gyms.  As a result, my prediction is that Foursquare and perhaps Gowalla will monetize their networks to a lucrative position faster than Twitter in 2010.


Augmented Reality Success or Bust?

augmented realityaugmented realityCashmore's position on AR is somewhat mixed. While he believes, "it's yet to become part of the consumer consciousness- it has attracted early-adopter buzz in the latter part of 2009," he has his doubts as to its continued functionality.

Enabled by GPS, AR maps the data from the likes of Google and the accelerometer technology in modern phones and overlays data on your environment with reviews of the restaurants you walk past and Wikipedia entries about the sights you see.

According to Cashmore, "the challenges for such services is to prove their utility - they have the 'cool factor,' but can they truly be useful."

While I understand Cashmore's concerns, I think there were several examples of AR used effectively in 2009 that counters his position. In an analysis I conducted in October, titled, "Real-Time Augmented Reality: Future or Fantasy?" I uncovered a application for AR that utilized real-time search most effectively.

Sporting events are perfect venues to adapt this type of technology, and this past June, Wimbeldon was the first major international arena to actually test it. The beta version of the Wimbeldon Seer developed by IBM, which runs on Google’s G1 smartphones provided fans at this past year’s matches with AR read-outs about what was being viewed during the tournament. The Seer’s features included match updates, players’ stats, newsfeeds, menu items available at the refreshment stands and could even tell you if the lines at a particular restroom were too long. All the real-time data on this system came from Wimbeldon’s own controlled channel.


Companies to develop social media policies

Dave AmanoDave AmanoDavid Armano's Harvard Business Publishing report asserts that "if the company you work for doesn't already have a social media policy in place with specific rules of engagement across multiple networks, it just might in the next year." From how to conduct yourself as an employee to what's considered competition, it's likely that you'll see something formalized about how the company views social media and your participation in it.

My tongue-and-cheek review back in October, titled, "Social Media Nazi Says 'No Twitter For You'" explored the 'prohibition' of Twitter and Facebook in the workplace. While Armano touches on the possibility of a formalized employee 'social media' handbook, I think there are going to be more stringent social media restrictions put in place as it pertains to social networking at your place of business.

Affecting more than half of all businesses in the US and according to a new survey conducted by Robert Half Technology, fifty-four percent of companies have completely blocked social networks at work, while another nineteen percent will only permit it "for business purposes." According to a CNET Report, social networks "have become so ingrained in culture and communication that some companies choosing to block them can appear draconian rather than prudent." Unfortunately , this 'big brother' trend, I believe will see even more traction in 2010.

Web 3.0 or the Semantic Web

The Semantic Web, which has been discussed, debated and debunked by many of the social media gurus mentioned here will emerge as a major sea change in 2010 as to how we conduct business and socially interact on the Web.

Peter SweeneyPeter SweeneyAccording to Peter Sweeney, founder of the semantic technology firm Primal Fusion, "Web 3.0 is industrial" and as an industrial entity "the automation of tasks displaces human work." He states that "instead of users manually creating content, machines will automate the heavy lifting. Consumers simply push the buttons and get stuff done. Think textile
mills versus spinning wheels."

Semantic web refers to the web-study of interlinked documents accessed via the Internet. Web pages are generally written in HTML,which describes the structure of information i.e the syntax but not the semantics. But if the computers can understand the meaning behind the information then this can help us surface the information that we are looking for more expeditiously. There are quite a few Web 3.0 applications we have been exposed to already including the likes of Twine, Google Squared and Mozilla Ubiquity. Also many regard Google Wave as the first major door-opener of Web 3.0 wave era.

In my article, "'Social Awareness' To Replace Social Networking," I see us getting closer to the 'Internet of Things' where 'social awareness' will aggregate everything we do online to the extent that tweets and status updates will become fully automated by the world around us versus us ever having to touch a keyboard again. This will be accomplished by the coding of every object, appliance and entity we interact with on a daily basis where all of our movements will be recorded, stored and communicated automatically when appropriate. This coupled with all of our content being warehoused for future data-mining purposes, the involvement of humans for some of these tasks will no longer be needed (as noted above by Sweeney).

My feeling is that while real-time search, location-based social networks, augmented reality and the other predictions noted here will all make significant inroads in 2010, the one most noteworthy will be Web 3.0  --  as all of these other new developments will have a direct correlation with how that movement unfolds.

The next decade has been marked as the beginning of the age of semantic technology. Once that ball starts rolling downhill, all of these other social media components will unfold at a faster and faster clip. Jennifer LeggioJennifer LeggioJennifer Leggio, also known as "Mediaphyter" notes in a ZDNet article, that "2010 is the year that social media will just be, rather than serving as a shiny new toy." I concur with Leggio's assumption that social networking will become ubiquitous, and add that Web 3.0 will replace Web 2.0 as the next new shiny thing we can't stop talking about in 2010.

Dec 6, 2009
by Anonymous

Great Predictions

This was thought provoking. I wonder, too, if there will be an increase of Twitter and blogger celebs... and perhaps a new social media platform?

Get more followers.

Dec 8, 2009
by Anonymous

Nice post

Interesting insight & very exciting for small businesses

Dec 9, 2009
by Anonymous

Deeper social media engagement?

How do you foresee consumer brands using social media in 2010? I think we’re going to see a lot of growth for apps that facilitate SM interaction between consumers and brands. At least, that’s what we’re working on at bulbstorm.

Brands are only now beginning to scratch the surface of the engagement potential of platforms like Facebook. A number of brands have millions of Facebook fans. Now the question is how to keep those fans engaged. It’s more than status updates, right?

Matt Simpson