‘Tis the season for predictions. Something about the end of the year gets tech writers and editors musing about the year past, the year ahead, and where they fit into all of it. Many of them are tiresome exercises in navel-gazing, but some of them offer a decent round-up of current events the rest of us may have missed.
So it’s not surprising that, since social media is hot, hot, hot, a lot of the predictions will involve where social networking is going to take us in the future. It’s certainly true that people with money to invest would truly like to know.
The first of the social media crystal-ball gazing I’ve seen is from David Armano on the Harvard Business Review blog. Armano reviews his predictions from last year and identifies his hits and misses, and adds some predictions for next year for good measure.
- The convergence of social media into “real life.” Armano cites the example of an experiment Coca-Cola conducted in which which visitors to an amusement park were invited to swipe their RFID-equipped wristbands at kiosks, which posted to their Facebook (News - Alert) account what they were doing and where.
- “Digital influence.” Marketers know that there are some people who wield a lot of so-called digital influence in social media. They purchase a lot, they have a lot of friends who respect their tastes, and they share their purchases and their opinions readily. The trick for marketers will be finding these people and enticing them to become strong (not to mention free) marketing vehicles for their brands. This concept also links to “social sharing,” the valuable phenomenon by which people use the tools on many retail or news Web sites to keep their social media friends apprised of their online activities.
- Social television. It’s a mix of television – both reality and non-reality – and social networking that allows people to interact with their favorite shows and one another during their viewership. Look for more of this in the future, particularly as more people watch Web-based television.
Other trends Armano notes is the influence of gaming-style elements creeping into other social media, online behavior and even in-store purchasing. While gamers earn points or badges inside games, more marketers may decide to use these concepts in their non-gaming marketing.
One area many Web prophets seem to have missed is location-based services. While the rhapsodies to services like Foursquare (News - Alert) came fast and furious two years ago, it seems clear that the number of people willing to be physically tracked for the sake of social media is holding stagnant and not likely to increase by much.
Most users of location-based social networking are still young men with high incomes. Despite the joys location-based social media might bring to marketers, it would appear that it’s just a little too “Big Brother” for many Americans.
Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Jennifer Russell