If there is anything that can be observed about human behavior by examining social media, it's that people are basically restless. They're always looking for something new to read, watch, see and interact with. The seemingly impenetrable social media experiences of a few years ago; MySpace for example, is a prime example of how fickle our love affairs can diminish with all things social.
So it's only natural to wonder: When do we begin to tire of our current online social sites, where will we turn next?
Obviously, the big kid on the social media block these days is Facebook. Its 600 million users collectively spent more than 49 billion minutes on the social networking site in 2010. Those numbers are up nearly 80 percent from the previous year, according to comScore's "The 2010 Digital Year in Review" report. Social media mavens expect a similar spike this year.
What's interesting is that although Facebook is currently the most popular social media site, it only captures about 12.5 percent of the total social network page views. That means thousands of other sites are also competing to grab your attention. Twitter alone claims to have 200-million account holders who generate 65-million tweets a day.
So what's the next big trend in social media marketing? Will another giant emerge to challenge Facebook? In the short-term, Facebook seems to have the resources to keep the wolves at bay, but well-financed competing platforms are making waves in the marketplace.
Just a few months ago, a business that had a growing number of Twitter followers, a snazzy Facebook page and an engaging blog might be ahead of the curve in brand building and revenue generation. Not anymore. Among the potential candidates for next big thing are:
- Bebo; described by some as "Facebook marries Twitter."
- Delicious; if you're all about what's new to see on the web, this is the site for you.
- Eons.com; Where baby boomers come to connect, share information and more.
- Foursquare; Real "next big thing" potential here, as people move away from their computers and onto their cell phones.
- Focus.com; Think "Twitter for Business." That pretty much sums it up.
- Friendster: Where gamers go to geek out.
From there, the list grows exponentially, including many industry or hobby-specific sites. For example, there's Epernicus (for research scientists), Raptr (for video gamers) and LibraryThing (for book lovers).
The next big thing may actually start with a "Q"
Of all the potential "new big kids" in the running, Quora.com has the greatest potential. It's an online community where anyone can post an open question or contribute an answer about anything. Created in 2010 by two former Facebook execs, Quora has some serious brainpower and dollars behind it. In fact, Business Insider reports that rumors are flying around Silicon Valley that Quora has already thumbed its nose at a $1-billion acquisition offer. How a business can use Quora to its advantage remains to be seen. Some industry insiders believe that only techies love the new site, but Quora gets the thumbs up from Google's head of design, Irene Au, who praises its visual interface and content:
"There's a lot of really rich high quality content there. It's one of my favorite sites to visit on a daily basis now," Au says.
As an entrepreneur, where do you find yourself visiting every day? What social media sites are proving to be the best fit for your business? Do you have the insight to predict what the next social media heavyweights will be? No one knows for sure; but that doesn't mean you can let social media trends take care of themselves. If you think you can slap together a web site, add a couple of icons from Facebook and Twitter and expect a flood of new business to follow - you have another think coming.
Bottom line: No business can afford to operate without a strategic social marketing plan. That plan needs to be durable enough to adapt to the ever-changing preferences of your audience. If you don't have the time or know-how to create that plan and implement it yourself, hire someone to help you.