2009 has been quite the eventful year: There were plane crashes in Holland and on the Hudson River, Michal Jackson died, everybody was freaked out by Swine Flu, Lance Armstrong returned to the Tour de France, there was a climate summit in Copenhagen, America got its first Black President that gave new meaning to the sentence “YES we can!”, there were the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there were elections in Iran, there were tensions between the West and euhm.. well.. everyone else. AND of course the mother of all newsitems in 2009 there was the big CC, the Credit Crunch…. oooooh the Credit Crunch
If you are an average news-follower you will for sure recognize all these events, because they have been in the news at the time and in pretty much every news-year-review program towards the end of the year. But the careful observer will notice that all of these events have something in common……. see it yet??….. yeaaaah there you go…. all these events have had something to do with Social Media.
Many would argue that 2009 was the year of Twitter and there is indeed some evidence to support that: Growth succeeding 1000% in some months, the fastest spreading of information, 50 million users and all the big players in the online business either want to buy Twitter or have developed similar things. Here in Holland you are hardly taken seriously anymore as a politician if you are not tweeting about how much salt you put on your tuna sandwich during lunch. So YES INDEED it has been a great year for Twitter.
Personally I think 2009 has been the year of Facebook. in 2009 Facebook has become the single most dominant force to be reckoned with in Social Media land. With over 350 million users (that is more than the entire US population) and usage numbers in terms of picture uploads, video uploads, profiles, fan pages that boggle the mind Facebook has truly grown up. Yes there have been issues with a new UI and new privacy settings, but as far as I’m concerned those are just small hickups for now. And maybe the most impressive part is that Facebook is able to stand up to the biggest name of them all: Google. Normally companies roll onto their backs and come over all funny as soon as Google starts to tickle them. But Facebook has stood their grounds for now.
So what can we expect for 2010??
Well I do live in Amsterdam where many people will use substances illegal in other parts of the world and from what I hear they can get pretty misty-eyed and start babbling about the meaning of life and how we all fit into a bigger picture. No worries, I do not resort to those substances or babbling.
Nowadays it is becoming increasingly time consuming to manage all our Social Media platforms. Doing a status update almost forces you to go through several different login processes and go to a variety of websites. Platforms like Ping.fm, TweetDeck and Digsby are already doing a very good job in “mashing” several Social Sites into one system or enabling users to access them from 1 location. I think that this trend will continue in 2010. Whether it be in downloadable form like TweetDeck, or in a mash on site like Ping.fm, it will become increasingly easy to manage all Social Media activities from one single location.
This integration will also span over several different types of applications we use. The current Facebook app for iPhone automatically syncs the Facebook Profile Pictures and links of the people in you phones contact list with each other. For me this even goes one step further since I also sync my phone with my Google address book from Gmail and Wave.
Mobile and Real Time
In one of their commercials, HTC says that your phone is the first thing you see in the morning and the last thing you see before you go to sleep, and that it’s the only thing that is always within an arms reach. In 2010 our phones will become the central hub from which we control our Social Networks, because of the computing power of our phones, we will let our networks know what is happening real time. And obviously we will be informed about developments FROM our networks in real time.
Location based services are easy to link to smartphones GPS capabilities and will show us what we need, where we need it, whenever we need it. And it will show us where the rest of our network is and what is happening. Services like Google Latitude and Location based Twitter apps are fantastic examples of this.
Im not sure if eReaders fall under the category “Mobile” but they are a first step in a new direction of multi-functional devices that narrow the gap between phones and netbooks. There are many manufacturers that are planning to launch tablet PC’s in 2010 (Apple, Microsoft, HP, Dell, Acer etc) so there will be a lot of development there. Especially since the chip- and battery- technology is getting better every day.
I am really excited about the mobile and real time development. It means that we are more and more dis-attached from our computers and desks and that everything that happens will come to us as it is happening. This trend was already very much alive in 2009, and will continue to amaze us in 2010 I’m sure.
If 2009 has been the year of REvolution, 2010 will sure be the year of Evolution. I think that 2010 is going to be the year where the Semantic Web will come into play. Some of you might call this web 3.0 or 4.0, but I personally don’t really believe in those terms. It suggests there are different versions on the web (which isn’t true). The Semantic Web is not something that will simply be introduced some day and then live on ans the new standard from there on. It’s more something that gradually works its way in our lives. Technically speaking, a simple Google Search is already part of the Semantic Web since it learns from every search and becomes smarter and knows what you want the more you use it. I’ll write more about this in another blog sometime, since it is a fascinating topic.
I think that 2010 will be the year where businesses and organizations will start to realize that Social Media is the way to go when it comes to communicating with their audiences. 2009 already showed some great examples, (Dell, Starbucks, Google) of companies using Social Media platforms to reach out to people. In general though, businesses are not that eager yet. Of course budgets are tight and maybe there is a bit of “fear for the unknown”, but in my opinion there is SOO much momentum and feedback business and organizations can acquire through Social Media that it is unthinkable not to consider it. 2010 will be the year where businesses that can develop a good Social Media strategy will be the winners and the businesses that opt out will start to see the consequences.
There are people like a Susan Greenfield, the Dutch Queen and Archbishop Vincen Nichols that suggest Social Media is driving us apart as a society, shrinking our attention spans, make us anti-social and confine our worlds to our desks. I completely disagree with them, I think they are just scared about something they do not understand.
Social Media is opening up the world to everybody with an internet connection. We can now have friendships that span the globe, find peers on the most obscure topics and solve our own problems and those of others in our networks.
I think Social Media is a truly fantastic way of bringing people together, a way to share information and help others that has virtually no limits in its capacity and speed. I think this is something amazing and something that we should all embrace.
Privacy and data will become an issue though. I think that in 2010 we might be seeing the first lawsuits and try-case in which the boundaries of what is possible and allowed will be tested.
Happy Social Networking to all of ya in 2010!!