Every year in January I take a look forward to determine what the landscape will be for the coming year. I do this because as a communicator my business demands it. But I also take a look back at what I thought would happen for the year that has just past to see how well I did predicting what would happen.
Many other great minds have given their predictions for 2009, but Jeremiah Owyang also graded himself and Forrester on their 2008 predictions. In response, my friend Bryan Person asked a legitimate question, “Now, who else is willing to follow suit?”
I'll take you up on that Bryan.
2008 Predictions Grade Card
TREND 1 – Social Network Fatigue: Early adopters of social networks will begin to tire of all of the demands on their attention and will scale down to one or two properties. Companies will spring up to aggregate their attention to one place. The one to do it elegantly will become the new darling. Grade: B+
- Analysis: I do think that the early adopters are feeling fatigued, but a fresh new crowd has come in to revitalize social networks. The area that many early adopters have scaled back on is blogging and reading blogs. Others have stepped back from Twitter and other channels. FriendFeed has tried to aggregate the stream in one place, but is still really picking up speed and hasn't reached its full potential.
- 2009 Prediction: I think that this balance between social networks will continue to rage. With more open standards and the ability to take your social profile with you, I think that aggregation will continue to be the holy grail. I also think that people will start to rethink the blog as a multimedia platform to aggregate their own content and will invest more time. That's my plan anyway.
TREND 2 – Consolidation: Somewhat in response to the above trend, and in order to scoop the most eyeballs for advertising, social media and Internet properties will aggregate and consolidate. Grade: B+
- Analysis: Okay, I got this one right. The reason I only give myself a B+ on this is because the reason for many of these moves is not so much acquisition and it was utter failure in a tanking economy. I didn't see the depth of that problem until mid-2008. Many services have bought, like Pownce for instance, and have been liquidated. Of course, Google has bought a whole host of companies over the past year and added them to their portfolio of services.
- 2009 Prediction: This year will see many more Web 2.0 companies exiting the field or consolidating, but it will also see the strengthening of the bigger players. By the third quarter, baring more wars or financial collapse, we should see some improvement for the health of social networks. I hope I am right about this one.
TREND 3 – E-mail will continue its slide in popularity: While we won't give it up (we are addicted after all) e-mail spam will get worse, and moreover, spam will begin to creep into our social networks, re: Unsolicited direct messages in Twitter, etc. Grade A
- Analysis: E-mail is the essential productivity tool that everyone hates.
- 2009 Prediction: Services that help you manage your e-mail overload, like Jared Goralnick's AwayFind, should become more popular this year.
TREND 4 – The Third Screen: Despite its great promise, mobile technology is still in its infancy. The release of the iPhone might spur the competition to innovate. Grade A
- Analysis: The need to have a computer with you has GREATLY diminished this year. I don't have an iPhone, but my Blackberry Curve keeps me in the loop nicely. The iPhone was a game changer and all of the brands are innovating.
- 2009 Prediction: This area will only continue to grow as demand grows for people to be able to do EVERYTHING on one device.
TREND 5: The User-Generated Rise of Viral Video: Public relations professionals had better get some skills in video. We will be called upon to understand this aspect of social media campaigns. This trend has not played out, with HD and other high-quality video delivered via the Internet to continue. Heck, AT&T;'s whole strategy is wrapped around this. Grade A+
- Analysis: Video continues to be important and should be a part of considerations when communicating something visual. Qik, UStream and other formats have made live video even more important.
- 2009 Prediction: Real-time video will continue to play a huge role, especially as more mobile devices deliver it seamlessly. Those who have some skill will stand out.
TREND 6: The Birth Pains of the 3D Internet: Tech companies will continue to quietly innovate in this area, but mainstream companies won't adopt until they see a clear benefit. For 2008, 3D Internet will continue to cool its heels. Grade B
- Analysis: I would say that the 3D Internet has cooled its heels this year, as in ice age.
- 2009 Prediction: Still, I think that elements of it will eventually be a big part of the the Internet experience. But with the current economic climate, not in 2009.
TREND 7: The Misuse and Abuse of Social Media Channels: I only see this as a growth area. It's depressing if you think about it. Grade A+
- Analysis: Twitter spam, Fake DMs to hijack Twitter accounts, Malware sent by “friends” on Facebook – need I go on?
- 2009 Prediction: None, it's too depressing.
TREND 8: The Rise of a Real Discussion about the Future of the Press Release, Finally: This year is already off to a bang with the Social Media Group releasing their version of the SMNR called Digital Snippets. There has already been a lot of heated debate, which was almost completely absent in 2007. I predict that the format will continue to evolve this year, and companies will use it when they see a clear business use. Grade C
- Analysis: The SMNR was used this year for sure, but I think as a topic it has lost its appeal. The key is having micro content, SEO and links.
Some other predictions for 2009
- Social Media services will become commodities: With many companies jumping in to offer social media services, there will be a premium on strategy over tactical execution of social media programs.
- Measurement will be key: Clients and bosses will want to know, “Where's the beef?”
My Predictions Posts From Previous Years: