As 2009 nears its end, bloggers are busy posting their predictions about the future of social media. Three of the most prevalent predictions regarding social media’s potential developments in 2010 are: social media functioning as a corporate marketing tool, the rise of new location based applications and networks, and a marked shift from trend to standard in business communication.
As companies wade through the economic recession, social media will continue to grow. In search of new marketing strategies, businesses will realize that social networking can serve as an economically sound marketing tool. In order to reap the greatest benefit from social media, companies will need to regard social media as a relationship rather than a marketing campaign. Companies already reach vast audiences through Twitter feeds and Facebook fan pages. This fluid social environment empowers companies and consumers to distribute, receive, and share information on these social networks. A progressive business will strive to create a symbiotic relationship with its consumer base. A corporate social media presence that can effectively adapt to consumers’ ever-changing needs, wants, and desires will enable both parties to thrive.
In 2010, location based applications and networks may take the lead in the social media movement. This summer, Mashable Online announced that Foursquare showed potential to become the next Twitter. This location-based social network helps connect friends using GPS via a mobile device, as well as an added layer of social gameplay. Earlier this year, Foursquare saw its first major web success at SXSW. Foursquare does have a growing user base, but remains a misunderstood service. Foursquare’s current situation is markedly reminiscent of Twitter’s own situation two years ago. Considering the incredible growth that Twitter has experienced since then, this bodes well for Foursquare.
In addition to specifically location based services, existing successful social networks like Twitter are expanding their location capabilities. iPhone users can find Twitter apps with a “nearby” mode to help them locate people in the area. Businesses can capitalize on the advantage to more effectively target their consumer base.
The final major shift that we may see in 2010 is social media’s transformation into a solid aspect of business communication. Amidst the recent speculation about Twitter’s possible demise, bloggers predict that the shift in Twitter’s user base may not be a negative one. Twitter should become an everyday communication tool, rather than a new marketing toy. “The technology will begin to fade into the background so that people can focus on the relationships that are created because of the technologies, not the technologies themselves” (@charleneli). In any case, the web environment should see a subtle yet important shift in social media’s importance and legitimacy in the business world.
Predictions are an aggregate of ideas of people in “the know.” In social media, however, we are the ones who create the experience. So, Tweet this if you wish, and know that ultimately you will create these shifts in our web environment.