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Five Social Media Predictions for 2010

Here are my five social media predictions for 2010.

1. Augmented Reality Applications Will Start to Go Mainstream

Augmented Reality (AR) is the ability to place computer-generated information, such as text and labels, on top of live real world data, such as video from a smart phone. Most AR applications in 2009 were quaint curiosities designed to demonstrate the AR concept. It took a lot of hacking and ingenuity to make these a reality since most consumer platforms lagged (but not by much) in features (think video finally coming to the iPhone) required for AR.

A few AR applications have been rolled out by progressive marketers and other organizations this year, but 2010 will be the year AR explodes. Expect to see applications from major corporations, municipalities, and institutions of higher learning. Some of the most interesting applications will be outside of marketing and promotion. These might include realtime campus maps and guided tours; theme park guides; capital equipment location and inventory; and even applications in which the operator makes computer-based notes on top of realtime images, which would be useful for things like home inspection and insurance claims estimating.

Geekspeak marketing and lack of public awareness will hold AR back. Verizon was featuring AR capability (by name) in its Droid spots, and one can only assume this was to attract early adopters and gearheads, since most consumers have no idea what AR is or what it can do.

2. Location-Based Applications Will Dissolve Into General Social Networks

Location-based applications like Foursquare and Brightkite will not be the darlings of social media as some predict, but will instead turn into features and dissolve into general social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Twitter recently rolled out its Geotagging capability on a limited basis. Features and capabilities help grow a network's user base in infancy; huge subscriber numbers grow it to adulthood. Services that are specifically location based will not experience the kinds of growth achieved by general purpose social networks. Additionally, other than location information, specialized location-based services have little to differentiate themselves from mainstream social networks. These companies could end up being acquired.

3. Enterprise Social Software Applications Will Become Commonplace

Large software providers like IBM, SAP and Oracle will launch, or announce, the first enterprise-grade social networking and Web 2.0 collaboration applications/suites that will gain broad momentum and recognition in the marketplace.

Certainly all of these companies are active in the Web 2.0 space. Oracle has Beehive, Microsoft has added social capabilities to SharePoint, SocialText is in the enterprise, as is IBM's Lotus Connections, but no category killer has emerged. Many enterprises are launching blogs on TypePad or WordPress and building social networks and communities on third-party software or developing it from the ground up using Ruby-on-Rails.

What needs to happen in the enterprise space is for one or two brands to be so well understood, so feature rich, and so commonplace, as to achieve generic status. PowerPoint is ubiquitous. Before we can say the enterprise social software market is mature, enterprise brands must become as generic and pervasive as PowerPoint. 2010 could be the year that happens, or the year we see the first enterprise application/environment that achieves pervasive status.

4. More Social Media Regulation Will Follow the FTC's October Endorsement Guides

Most social media professionals were surprised when the FTC announced its updated Endorsement Guides earlier this year, which described in great detail new requirements for bloggers and celebrities to disclose their relationships with sponsors, including arrangements whereby companies provide bloggers with products and services for review. Uncertainty about the legitimacy of these arrangements led to the term “blogola,” based on the 1950s record industry “payola” scandal.

The Web 2.0 marketing industry has proposed numerous codes of ethics, such as that of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, but ethical lapses continue to occur and the only answer is regulation. The EU Unfair Business Practices Directive technically banned astroturfing (the practice of company or paid third-party representatives posing as consumers and leaving positive comments on a blog or forum) some time ago.

In the past, print journalists have generally been fastidious about not having these kinds of relationships with the manufacturers of products they review, and have returned products after they have been reviewed. Those that haven't have been harshly criticized, and there is no reason to expect bloggers to be held to a lesser standard.

I have always held that new media doesn't require new ethics, but in the relentless quest to grow revenue and acquire customers, some still have ethical compasses unable to find magnetic north. As more and more non-social media savvy consumers come into contact with Web 2.0 marketing, there will be problems in areas of disclosure, privacy and fair competitive practice. Expect the proposal and enactment of new regulations in 2010.

5. Social Search Will Shake Out, and the Search Metaphor Will Change

We're nearing the end of the hegemony of Google Search. This is not to say Google is in immediate trouble, or some other search engine will take its place, but traditional search is becoming irrelevant, and other kinds of search will begin to challenge Google. Even Google, a Web 1.0 company — or Web 1.5 company at best — recognizes this, and launched its Social Search experiment. Technorati, an early leader in social (media) search, could have owned the space, and maybe they did for a while, but not anymore.

Microsoft's Bing was the surprise hit of 2009, and has started to erode Google's share of search. Bing has some social features, but expect some big news in social search in 2010. Facebook and Twitter both offer “interesting” ideas in social search, and both are sitting on top of mountains of social data, but both have taken an incidental approach to social search.

The whole metaphor for search will change. Search won't be a separate function. Instead of going to a site like or, users will receive meaningful, personally relevant search results within the context of whatever they are currently doing.

If you're writing a term paper, you'll be presented with links and summaries that point to information directly related to the topic and content of your paper. If you are browsing items on eBay, you'll see list prices, Craig's List listing for same and similar items, and maybe user reviews. You won't type into a search box. Search results will come to you based on your needs. This isn't 2010 stuff, but things have to move in that direction. The conventional Web 1.0 search engine is irrelevant, and merely adding social features to these outmoded services does not make them the next generation tools people will expect.

I invite you to share your reactions to these, and add your own, in a comment below. Thanks!

Tags: Augmented Reality, AR, EU, Unfair Business Practices Directive, Bing, Google, Foursquare, Brightkite, Facebook, Twitter, SAP, Socialtext, IBM, Microsoft, 2010, predictions, 2012, blogola, ethics, Beehive, Lotus Connections, social search

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  • Mar 16 Posted 7 years ago rajsinha Hard Drive Recovery
  • Mar 16 Posted 7 years ago rajsinha SM is just another channel through which to communicate and connect with stakeholders. It has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, just like every other channel. The sooner we as professional communication consultants recognize this, the sooner we can move forward and incorporate sm strategies and tactics as part of the whole picture and not a stand-alone novelty item.
    Hard Drive Recovery
  • Dec 9 Posted 7 years ago TJMcCue Amanda

    that was a great read on Google in the NY Times that I missed. thanks for sharing it in your comment.



  • Dec 7 Posted 7 years ago DrDaveHale Great info and predictions. I love this time of the year to find out what the insiders think will happen in the next year. I am looking forward to all of the new and wonderful breakthroughs with social media.
    I predict the best breakthroughs will come in the SM industry and it will become a greater influencer in the marketing world.

    Dr. Dave Hale
    The Internet Marketing Professor
  • Nov 27 Posted 7 years ago CherylH Excellent article! In regards to number three, it is growing at a faster rate than most realize. As one who works in the social networking software industry I have seen first hand the rise in demand. With the advent of the flex schedule and job-sharing, an enterprise level social networking platform is becoming a much sought after solution. In reference to point five, the sooner the better today's search engines are like trying to send a text message on a rotary dial phone.
  • UrsEGattiker1's picture
    Nov 27 Posted 7 years ago UrsEGattiker1

    Nice predictions, we made ours just for the social media corner

    Thanks for sharing this

  • Nov 27 Posted 7 years ago socialized Amanda I agree that you've identified two important trends, but don't discount the FTC guidelines. The temptation to game the social media system has proven too great to too many. Yelp has been in trouble for hiding negative reviews for pay  and hiring paid reviewers. Services like Amazon's Mechanical Turk and ShortTask pay users to leave positive comments, positive product reviews, Diggs, etc.

    Anyone who thought social media would take corporate hype out of the marketing picture and replace it with the "authentic" voice of the people was wrong. Consumers unfamiliar with all of the tricks of the social media trade are worse off today than they were in the age of the corporate web site, which was closely watched and regulated.

  • Nov 27 Posted 7 years ago amandachapel

    Respectfully, the two BIGGEST trends are missing here.

    1)  Privacy versus and the rise of behavioral tracking in SMedia.  See .  That promises to be much more impactful that the FTC guidelines precluding smarm from the gaggle of Mommy bloggers.

    2) The problem with Google.  "Most C.E.O.’s are unhappy, one way or another, with what Google has become." See .  That said,, imagine "The Federal Search Commission" .

    What we will see in 2010 is the end of the Web 2.0 free-for-all.  And as reality and law set in, you can count on the end of "the club" and bullshit faux expertise.  I imagine the true believers of Brian Solis' tribe will formally merge with Benny Hinn.

    - Amanda

  • Nov 27 Posted 7 years ago SusanLeighBabcock
    Fascinating run-down, Joel. Thank you!

    1.) AR: "Geekspeak marketing" is a great phrase to describe what holds back not only technological advances, but many other developments in many other fields. In-speak languaging is an icy puddle. I think a great antidote to this is the illustration or the story. I heard a piece on NPR that referred to some of the fears surrounding potentially nefarious applications of AR. I would be interested to hear more specific products or services that you see coming ahead. 

    5.) Search: I'm digging this idea that Search won't be a separate function. I've always been a frustrated "Googler."

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