Social Media: Top Ten Predictions for 2010

SPONSORED FEATURE - Social Media: Top Ten Predictions for 2010

1) Content / rights owners (finally) embrace social channels

People want content. And the internet is Content Centrale.

Social sites such as YouTube, Metacafe and Facebook have given people access to more content than every before but up until recently, traditional content providers such as broadcasters, newspapers and the music industry have been very reluctant to embrace this change in the consumption. Consumer demand has driven YouTube views regularly above TV audience views so content and rights owners will embrace this opportunity next year.

The commercial models are starting to prove themselves and there will be a land-grab among the major content aggregators to secure those precious eye-balls.

 

2) Paid-for online newspapers. Or perhaps not...

Media organisations have recently raised the idea of placing paywalls around their content and turning normal newspaper sites into subscription-based services.

This may work if you are The Wall Street Journal, but what about The Sun?

The growth of journalist-bloggers and the speed of platforms like Twitter have meant that consumers expect real-time updates on current events and affairs and the value of simply reporting what has already happened has been undermined. In 2010 media owners will try paywall - and they will fail.

 

3) Social media gets a seat at marketing's top table

A few forward-thinking companies including Dell, Starbucks and Southwest Airlines have realised how and where to interact with consumers via social media, and have reaped $ms in additional revenue in 2009.

In 2010, this kind of social engagement will not be optional. As consumer expectations rise, with interest piqued by the trailblazers, brands will need to promote social media channels to marketing's top table. The size and interactivity of the audiences simply cannot be ignored.

 

4) Social media monitoring comes of age

There are currently a number of reporting tools, both free and paid-for which provide raw data relating social media ‘buzz', but there are no frameworks or models to help gain genuine insight from these results.

2010 is the big year for social media metrics. Before the end of the 2010, I predict that frameworks and models will be developed to give brands a true sense of what social media is worth to them and how they are doing compared to their competitors. 

Yomego's Social Media Reputation reports combine sophisticated tracking tools with analysis and insight to give clients a steer on how to refine their current strategy to make an immediate, noticeable and measurable difference.

 

 5) Social media policies will grab headlines

Some companies, particularly in the US, already have social media policies. These relate to how the company uses social media and how its staff is allowed to interact with it (even in their own time).

These policies will be developed in the coming year and will raise important issues around professional responsibilities and how far they should, or could, extend. The most draconian measures will involve employers forcing new staff to reveal what social media presences they have, and try to control what employees say through these channels.

Ultimately these policies will be relaxed as companies start to understand social media as an opportunity and not a threat. But things might get ugly in the meantime.

 

6) Advertising budgets will continue to desert traditional media

Although it seems that the recession has meant less advertising money being invested in traditional media, it has really just accelerated a process that had already begun. Due to both the level of sophistication, and the new types of relationships these platforms offer, this migration of marketing spend to social media was inevitable. 

2010 will see companies not only diverting money from newspaper, magazine and radio budgets, but also from online ad campaigns.

 

 7) Ratings and reviews will make or lose you lots of money

The potential of social media to find, aggregate and share ratings and reviews has increased exponentially over the past few months and next year will see the explosion of these capacities.

Research shows that up to 50% of people will be using online reviews from strangers through social media channels to make purchasing decisions this Christmas, and so the potential impact is huge.

By the end of 2010, it will be almost unthinkable for the majority of people to make a big-ticket purchase without having checked social media product reviews beforehand.

Is it possible to put a price on the value of advocacy? Well, put it this way - Google has just bid $0.5bn for local ratings and review site, Yelp.com.

 

8) You ain't seen nothing yet

Partially fueled by mobile internet usage and partially by new tools such as Google Wave, the surge in social media user numbers we have seen recently will go nuclear next year. This will be true not only on the big networks such as Facebook, but also on smaller niche communities. 

My prediction is that by the end of 2010, nearly half of the UK will be on one or more social networks - representing about 85% of all households with broadband access.

 

 9) Points mean prizes

As social media reporting and analysis becomes more complete and comprehensive, the question of influence of individual social media users starts to become a key metric for companies.

Companies will start to incentivise social media users. For some companies this is already common practice, such as Microsoft, Dell and Nintendo, who already work with bloggers to push specific messages.

The nature of these rewards will be all-important - ham-fisted bribery won't work (and will often do more harm than good). The most powerful rewards in social media circles are often access to content and community recognition. 

 

10)            No place like home

In 2010, more and more brands will realise the value of their own community.

Irish telecoms giant eircom recently relaunched their customer services website as a community site, inviting criticism (and praise, of course) under its own roof. A brave move, you might think, but these conversations were going on already in social spaces and taking ownership and responsibility in this way can boost responsiveness, advocacy and reduce churn. It also provides direct access to customers who can be empowered to shape the brand's future.

Tools like Facebook Connect, and Open Social to allow content to flow between a brand's communities as well as existing networks, but having a destination will provide a focal point.

 

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