About a week ago I shared my general vision on where I see the social media space moving in 2008. This week, I’m going to dig a bit deeper and lay out some initial thoughts on where the different forms of social media are headed in the upcoming year.
I know there are a lot of conceptual shortcomings with the hype cycle but I thought it would prove a useful tool for helping map out the trajectories of where these different forms are headed. Quick note – I’ve used some of the top brands in each of the forms to represent the form as whole.
Social Media Trajectories in ’08
Social Bookmarking in 2008
Of all the forms of social media, I believe social bookmarking is ready to take the hardest fall. My feeling is it is becoming increasingly infiltrated by spammers and marketers. Also, more popular social networking sites like Facebook are beginning to include social bookmarking functions that may compel some former social bookmark users to shift. With no viable revenue stream, I believe many social bookmark sites will either go under during 2008 or struggle to stay afloat while finding new methods for dealing with the influx of junk coming into their domains.
MMORPGs (Second Life) in 2008
I’m actually more focused on Second Life here than on other MMORPGs. Although there is a decent chance that Second Life will simply die and go away, I am going to defy popular logic and say that it will actually crawl out of the trough of disillusionment as the technology gets better, integration with the regular Web increases, and a more realist perspective on its potential facilitates more niche, targeted applications. It is clearly not the ‘Second Life’ that it proclaims to be, but maybe it can be a third or fourth life.
Social Networking in 2008
On a broad scale, people will continue to shift from the over-commodified and under-innovated MySpace to the ever-growing Facebook. The absolute volume of social network users will seem like it is increasing substantially but it will simply be because more user accounts are being opened in Facebook from people who already have user accounts in MySpace. There will however be incremental growth from vertical social networks, with LinkedIn leading the way.
Four years after being dubbed the ‘word of the year’, blogging will start to emerge onto the plateau of productivity. The wave of experimental bloggers who flame out within 12-months is probably over and what is left are those who are going to have a shelf-live of over 12-months. Top-tier bloggers will continue to more closely resemble their mainstream counterparts (as their mainstream counterparts begin to more closely resemble top-tier blogs). The sustainability of long-tail blogging will be supported by AdSense and other ad networks. From the corporate perspective, it will dawn on more PR departments that spamming bloggers isn’t necessarily the best way to engage in blogger relations.
Video Sharing Sites in 2008
YouTube will continue to blend with traditional – YouTube will continue its move into the mainstream as user-generated content will become more readily available in mass media technologies like cable and television. Similar to the reciprocal impact of blogging on mainstream media, user-generated video will continue to impact both production and consumption of traditional video media and we will see increased similarities as the two mediums continue to blend.
On a final note, I know many people are predicting that 2008 will be the year when mobile really explodes. I predict that mobile will continue to grow. With continued innovation and domestication of hand-held and mobile devices, a new generation of social media forms and services will start to move into the mainstream as early adopters show us cool things and help brands like twitter ascend the peak of inflated expectations.