Way back in December of 2006, I made some predictions about social media trends. For whatever reason, that post continues to be one of my most visited. So, I thought I would revisit what I said and if I was even close. Plus, I will comment on what I think is next for 2008.
Trend 1: The User-Generated Rise of Viral Video
What happened: Video took off in directions that I never imagined, with even dyed-in-the-wool writers taking up the camera – witness the co-authors of Naked Conversations, Shel Israel and Robert Scoble joining Fast Company as a video bloggers. Additionally a viral video post in the Tech Crunch blog shows just how “mature” this market is becoming as people try to game the system.
- What's next: 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.
Trend 2: The Birth Pains of the 3D Internet
What happened: Not much yet. Second Life continues to mature, but it no longer the media darling it once was. I still believe the technology will be applied elsewhere by smart companies.
- What's next: 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.
Trend 3: The Misuse and Abuse of Social Media Channels
What happened: I mentioned above the Tech Crunch viral video post where a WOM firm admitted to gaming the system.Blogger Geoff Livingston brought to light a few astroturfing campaigns and a little later he also wrote about the prevailing astroturf culture in Washington DC, Shel Israel explains astroturfing here. It isn't limited to Washington or the US. The EU passed a law last year to outlaw astroturfing.
- What's next: Unfortunately, I only see this as a growth area. It's depressing if you think about it.
Trend 4: The Rejection of PR by Several Social Media Communities
What happened: After last year's BlogHer Conference, City Mama blogger Stefania Pomponi wrote a scathing post “putting PR people on notice, that called out an attitude by PR types that see them as a commodity. This was so offensive to the BlogHer attendees that David Wescott, a public relations practitioner, blogger and attendee at BlogHer, felt the need to publicly apologize on behalf of PR folk everywhere. And who can forget Wired's Chris Anderson posting of a list of PR people (and their e-mail addresses) that he planned to block for bad pitches. While he is not exactly a social media community, his ire resonated with many bloggers.
- What's next: More of the same I fear, Kevin Duggan's Bad Pitch Blog should be quite popular on into the future. My recommendation, don't get too philosophical, just do the right thing and you will be fine.
Trend 5: The Rise of a Real Discussion about the Future of the Press Release, Finally
What happened: After Todd Defren's Social Media News Release template in 2006, not much happened. 2007 fell well short of my expectations. What did happen was that Shannon Whitley continued to improve the PRX Builder, a forum to build and send SMNRs, PR Newswire pressed its MultiVu product and BusinessWire marketed Eon, moving the discussion more toward Search Engine Optimization (SEO) of press releases. And via Todd, several large companies used the format, but usually as an add-on to a traditional press release.
- What's next: 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.
Trends I completely missed:
- Microblogging (particularly Twitter) rose to prominence during the SXSW conference last spring, micropodcasts (Utterz) and microvideo (Seesmic), quickly followed and are in currently in Beta
- Facebook Heats Up: With the opening of its interface, the old horse Facebook became a social media darling
Some other predictions for 2008
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
I would love to hear your predictions for 2008. Thanks to Dan Greenfield for inspiring my original post in 2006.
Photos by Rasriri, James Preston, Kami Huyse, Rosenthrall, Jake and the Social Media Group