Five Things that Probably Won't Happen in Social Media in 2009

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by: Matt Rhodes

For the second in our Five Things to Do in 2009 series, I wanted to turn on it’s head the usual round of predictions that we usually see at this time of year. Rather than make predictions about things that will happen in 2009, I’m going to do the opposite, so find below our Five things that probably won’t happen in social media in 2009.

1. We probably won’t see the rise of mobile social media

For many years, people have been predicting the rise of the mobile web, and this year is no different. Evidence from the UK suggests that growth in Internet penetration is indeed being driven, in part, by an increase in mobile internet access. But this increase is being driven only by those who are already online and by a very small proportion of these. For social media to truly go mobile we need widespread acceptance of mobile internet. And this has not yet happened. Perhaps a rise in fully internet-enabled mobile devices in 2009 (such as the iPhone and BlackBerry) will set the scene for truly mobile social media in 2010 or beyond. But until then it will continue to just be a relatively small trend for a relatively small proportion of users.

2. We won’t see widespread acceptance of portable profiles

A significant development in social networks and online communities will be portable profiles; where people can take their profile (and their friends) with them to all of their online communities. This is exciting technology as it reflects the way we behave in society – we have a core group of friends that we carry with us wherever we go. But in 2009, I don’t think that we will see widespread acceptance of this. We’ll see an emergence of a number of technologies and profiles and people experimenting with each of these, but until one of these reaches widespread acceptance and use we won’t realise the benefits that portable profiles can bring. This is a shame.

3. We won’t all be searching semantically

There’s been much talk of the semantic web for a while now, and semantic search would be a great step forward. But the technology that exists isn’t yet mass market, and this probably isn’t going to change in 2009.

4. We won’t see as many new social media tools as in 2008

2008 has been a great year for innovation and experimentation. It seems that new social media tools have been launched every day. Some have been successful, others less so. Rather than seeing another year where so many new tools are developed, we think 2009 will be a year of consolidation. Successful tools will become more so and we will all learn what tools users want and how to help make their online experience better. So fewer new tools, but better and more useful tools overall.

5. We won’t crack social media ROI (just yet)

We’ve spoken a lot in 2008 about measuring ROI in online communities and across social media. It’s something that has been discussed at every conference I’ve attended or spoken at and something that many people have been writing about. Lots of discussion but very few definitive ideas on how to measure ROI. At FreshNetworks, we believe that it’s important to measure the impact of the use of ROI – if you build an online community make sure it is designed to contribute to specific business aims and then measure this imapct. So measuring ROI is seeing a lot of ideas and a lot of different approaches. But it’s a difficult one to crack, and needs us to change our view of what social media marketing is and where it contributes before we can develop a real ROI model. Perhaps we’ll make great progress in 2009 but a true ROI model will probably have to wait for 2010.

Read all of our Five Things to Do in 2009 posts

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