What’s the Next Big Thing?

Everybody wants to know—what’s the next big thing? Last week, we turned to Ben Parr from Mashable for insight on what’s hot in social. Ben spoke at an SFAMA event over at PeopleBrowser to discuss “The Future of Social and Tech.” His presentation began with an intro highlighting how social media has made communication among consumers faster and more efficient. Ben went on to point out that mobile texting and Internet usage have skyrocketed as fewer people use their phone as a traditional phone. This naturally led to a discussion on hot mobile technology. Foursquare is one leader in the space that jumps to the forefront of everyone’s mind as it boasts the SoLoMo (Social, Local and Mobile) triumvirate. Despite this, Foursquare has yet to cross the chasm to mainstream adoption. While I’m an avid Foursquare user and fan myself, Ben pointed out that the 10 million on Foursquare pales in comparison to Facebook’s 700 million users.

Ben’s presentation went on to discuss photo sharing tools. A picture tells a story faster than text itself. With cameras readily available on the phone, more people are taking photos on-the-go. Why text your friend a funny story when you can send a picture that says it all much more quickly? We’ve seen hot new apps, like Photogram, pop up to help people share special moments more easily.

One of the most interactive and engaging portions of the presentation was the Hot or Not game. The audience was invited to chime in and comment on what new tools in the world of tech and social media would be huge two years from now. Several of the up-and-coming companies included in the Hot or Not game have gotten a lot of buzz recently and young innovators are leading the charge. In fact, many of the founders were featured in Inc.’s 30 Under 30 list which came out yesterday and also included TriplePoint client, AnchorFree. So how do you sort through the hype? In this fast-paced industry time will soon sort out the winners from the losers but it’s still fun to take your best guess at what’s hot. Interestingly, there was generally mixed feedback from the crowd with no one company standing out strongly among the rest. Where do you weigh in?

Quora

Despite being led by dream team, Adam D’Angelo and Charlie Cheever, the majority of the crowd at the SFAMA event leaned toward the opinion that Quora was not in it for the long run. One audience member noted that Quora’s barrier to entry is too high and several others were annoyed that Quora requires responses be too in-depth or sophisticated.

Credit: Inc.com

Color

The jury was out on this geo-social photo sharing app. Far fewer audience members were familiar with Color compared to Quora. While the app connects users to others located nearby and seems to reside in the sweet spot of mobile photo sharing, several attendees agreed that the app still has kinks to work out.

Credit: Inc.com

GroupMe

GroupMe is an app that lets users create private groups to easily share text messages or make conference calls. With texting on the rise and highly targeted groups that will appeal to advertisers, GroupMe seems more Hot than Not.

Klout

Klout links across social networks to calculate the influence of users. The audience was a bit skeptical on this one but Ben pointed out that its air of exclusivity has a certain appeal to consumers. Plus it is valuable to companies who want to find and communicate with power users.

LinkedIn

The majority of attendees favored LinkedIn as Hot. Ben noted they are poised to gather valuable information about specific networks in a world where data is king.

While these companies include only a snippet of all the innovative tech and social media companies out there, they represent emerging industry trends and are certainly players to watch closely.

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