As I was writing this post, the Time Person of the Year was announced, and as you know by now, that person is YOU. It was an interesting choice, and I think that it is somewhat apprapos to the discussion about which social media trends I thought were most notable in 2006. (For an update on this post to 2008, Click on, 2008: What's Hot, What's Not in Social Media)
Dan Greenfield asked several bloggers to share what they felt was the most notable developments in 2006 that will impact social media and public relations. It is a good question without an easy answer, but I have picked the Top 5 trends in Social Media that I noticed in 2006, and how I see these playing out in 2007.
Trend 1: The User-Generated Rise of Viral Video
You-Tube was a huge story in 2006, and with the Google deal, it sealed its fate as one of the Top 5 trends. I love the Time piece about its offbeat founders, read it if you haven’t had the chance. It opened up the way for all kinds of consumer-generated content. It’s easy to make videos and the flash format, which can be easily shared and viewed with nothing but the browser, plus YouTube’s allowing video to be embedded in any website or blog is huge, and viral. No more errors that you don’t have the right plugin. Nice. In 2007, I predict there will be a major infringement lawsuit that will define (and unfortunately) tame video on the net.
Trend 2: The Birthpains of the 3D Internet
Second Life broke through into the mainstream media in 2006 and brought a flood of speculator corporations into its confines. It has been impressive to watch the list of corporations and residents who have built thriving businesses grow larger everyday. In fact, today Big Blue (IBM), opens up a massive build in the Second Life to the public (12 sims), which will mostly be used as an internal communications development sandbox, and to assist some of its customers, like Circuit City,who hope to break into the space. “Communication Overtones” has a group that meets in Second Life once a month called “Second Thursday in Second Life.” My prediction for 2007 and beyond is that 3D spaces and virtual reality, that have been developed in Second Life and in other places, will start to break free from these silos and show up right in your browser. IBM calls it the 3D Internet.
Trend 3: The Misuse and Abuse of Social Media Channels
Pay-Per-Post, Flogs, and Fake Social Media Campaigns, need I say more? The truth is that as social media come of age, they will be abused by those who would see themselves profit short-term at the expense of long-term gain. I predict that these scandals will only grow in 2007, and that leads to the next trend.
Trend 4: The Rejection of PR by Several Social Media Communities
If in the name of public relations these abuses are continued, then social media communities will reject us outright. And it has already started to happen, most notable is Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia. But Second Life also banned PR folk, at least in Dreamland, which represents 10 percent of the landmass in Second Life, the residents voted to ban “unrepentant” PR and Marketing Flacks. I predict that in 2007, there will be more bad PR for public relations, but I also predict that many people, who take time to know these communities will operate quite well within them. Just like PR today in the real world, PR in the Social Media world will live on, albeit with something to prove.
Trend 5: The Rise of a Real Discussion about the Future of the Press Release, Finally
The press release turned 100 this year, and the public relations and marketing community started to really talk about how to make it better and improve its usefulness. Todd Defren started the conversation with his take on a new format for the press release that he called the Social Media News Release. Then, a hot debate ensued, with everyone talking about what was really needed, with some focusing on content and others on distribution and format (hRelease particularly) to make press releases more readable by the machines and to incentivize major web companies, like Technorati, and distributors, like PRNewswire, to create tools for it. In the meanwhile, PRX Builder in the public domain, and Edelman in the private domain, have both built tools for Todd’s original format. I predict that this debate has yet to reach its full heat, and I expect a huge meme around this as the working group lead by Chris Heuer gets closer to actually putting teeth with the talk.
Today, several other bloggers have also posted their thoughts about the biggest trends in social media in 2006, and it won’t surprise you to learn that some of their ideas are different than mine. Check out Todd Defren, Dan Greenfield, Eric Kintz, and John Wagner.
And let us know what you think are the most important trends, if you agree or disagree. If you have a blog, write your own post, tag it PRTrends2006 and/or Web2.0trends2006. As you tag them, they should turn up on Technorati above. Also, would love to hear what you think in comments.