What is Social Media's 'big thing' for 2008?

The next big thing
Photo Credit darkmatter

First off – a big apology to everyone who is subscribed to this blog for the lack of postings in the last number of months. I haven’t stopped blogging, it is just that since I started working for RedMonk, the focus of my writing has changed and it is now more appropriate that I write more on GreenMonk, than here.

Having said that, anything I write about Social Media, will still be written here, I’ll just not be writing about Social Media as often 🙁

Why am I writing here now? Something has been bubbling away at the back of my mind the last couple of months and I wnated to see if anyone else was thinking this way, or, indeed (quite likely) if I was missing something!

Looking back at Social Media, we have had a significant advance (a ‘this year’s big thing’) every year since 2004.

In 2004 – blogs started to really take off
In 2005 – audio podcasts started to take off
In 2006 – video podcasts started to take off
In 2007 – microblogging (Twitter in particular) started to take off
In 2008 – ???

We are in November now of 2008 and I still don’t see any big transformative Social Media technology which has occurred this year.

Has it stalled? What am I missing?

32 thoughts on “What is Social Media's 'big thing' for 2008?”

  1. To me the biggest change I have seen in 2008 is the adoption of social networking amongst my friends and family. There has been a major increase in the number of friends and family members that have joined Facebook and LinkedIn. For me this signals a big next wave were more and more people are exploring social networking, and gradually seeing the benefits of this new connected world.

    If I will remember 2008 from a social networking perspective, the growth of social networking usage in the previous unconnected user base.

    This is not really a new technology, which was your question, but to me it is at least as big a shift as a new tool or website.

  2. I think 2008 has been a year off adoption, application and movement.

    More people are using social media and uses are going beyond the obvious, first face of social media. We have seen a US presidential campaign and election dramatically influenced by social media. The shift that is taking place around sustainability can in part, be attributed to efforts being made through social media. 2008 is the year of the collective voice taking action and directing change.

    The next step is to take this momentum and apply it to the way we work. Social media is moving out of the realm of specific applications, or social networks to a place where the appropriate tools, applications, widgets, technology will be applied and integrated into the way we work and the way we run our lives.

  3. The use of “aggregators” like FriendFeed and, like Marc said, the utilization of these tools by more of my friends and family.

  4. I agree with Riaz. Aggregation of multiple profiles, identities and accounts. Friendfeed being the leader.

    But like Twitter was in 2007, it is a bit techy and early stage still. Friendfeed is not user friendly, even I find it clumsy and overwhelming.

    2009 will see the emergence of mainstream social aggregation. Yahoo!, Google, AOL and maybe even Facebook will allow their users to suck in their accounts and activity streams from external sources. A Friendfeed for normal people.

  5. I actually missed some other obvious ones.. plaxo pulse and tumblr to name a few more..

    It is definitely not mainstream yetand I am not convinced it will go mainstream in its current form.

    I am with you on 09 even at this early stage – it will be the year of walls coming down – I think Facebook connect and Google’s friend connect technologies are going to be the key enabling technologies for a new type of website/interactivity and it is going to be the aggregators that pull everything together.

  6. 2008 is the beginning of the “Curation” process. There is a quality revolution taking place in social media – video’s, blogs, photos, microblogs, etc will get more specific and more focused. Content will be much more focused on “how good it is” not on “how many views it has”.

    Rock on.
    – tom –

  7. One of the most obvious for anyone who worked on the Obama campaign is how Chris Hughes crafted a Facebook-like social networking platform called MyBarackObama.com It allowed organizers to communicate directly and frequently with volunteers by email and via video; and even more importantly, it allowed volunteers to find and connect with each other. People were creating event invitations, blogging, creating their own niche groups within the ranks of volunteers that cut across geography to micro-target many sub-groups. Part of the enormous impact of this grassroots effort was the “behind the scenes” social networking that drove the entire effort. It has forever changed how political campaigns will be run in the future I’m sure.

  8. Good points, Catherine. Possibly “niche” or “on the fly” social networks will blossom. Tools that allow you to rapidly get together a social network for a particular event or topic.

  9. Not sure if this is the type of thing you are referring to, but @kevinmhuff just showed me Flock.com. It’s a whole new browser, which is built on the FireFox3 platform, and is focused on Social Networking. It has a built-in sidebar that provides instant access to all of your social networking sites, and if it catches on, it could redefine the way we browse on the Internet.

  10. Yes in support of the above listed comments…AND, in addition to aggregating and streamlining all of any one person’s social media and ease of use, the business/marketing world will drastically improve their participation, contribution to and value added to their community of choice. We’ll see even more consumer driven experiences, improvements and adjustments that Brands/Companies will have to make to keep their consumers happy. I, for one, am looking forward to that dialogue and the quantum leaps business can make as a result.

  11. I think the main change was the step in to the mainstream, and on to the mobile and cloud.

    The mobile is getting to the point where blogging (too many to mention), audio & video (qik) and microblogging (twinkle, twitterberry etc) are usable on the mobile platform.

    Tying in to this is the rise of the netbooks. The EEEPC is a tiny underpowered thing, which is incredibly useful now that the processing is not taking place on the device. Similarly, some of the processing is moved off a mobile device, making it more useful.

    And this innovation isn’t taking place in a basement, but a coffee shop and in the malls.

    Social networking isn’t new (neither is cloud computing, it’s an evolution of the old mainframe model) but it now mainstream.

    The building blocks since 2004 now have their own hardware.

  12. I would say it will be personalized platforms like Ning. I think that is one of the reasons Obama was successful in SM. They jumped in on the right platform as it is emerging.

  13. 1) Mobile and iPhone. Although, I think the surface has only been scratched here.
    2) Will semantic web or hyper-local be big?
    3) Hopefully more innovation and success in monetization models will kick in so more open source projects can be sustainable.
    4) Crowd souring has the potential to take off pretty big, although i don’t see the online movement in that direction. The launch of Predictify suggest such a conclusion. Also, Idea Blob has been fairly successful. There are a number of crowd sourcing creative (graphic design and video) that are bubbling to the surface beyond the e-lance model. This will only continue to increase as the need for outsourcing and budget cutting begins
    5) A focus on efficiency and productivity. This may push the need for filtering and make 2009 the year of the editor. The launch of Filtrbox has been huge. I hear that Shel is working on a project in this area, but I think its longer term.
    6) Leveraging offline connection with online connection. Certainly the unconference movement and Meet up have pushed for more person to person contact, however the pressense of twitter along with the burgeoning mobile market make this a place for great innovation and great potential ROI.

  14. I’d love to add something new, but I’m afraid my own viewpoint has been stated above – firstly, it’s been a year of adoption, and of consolidation; secondly, I’ve seen an increase in the adoption of social media for business purposes; and thirdly, aggregators have arrived on the scene.

  15. 2008 was the year that we stopped thinking about the destination as the experience and rethought the social dynamic. Whether it be Friendfeed or Digsby, Twitter or Plaxo or Xobni, 2008 was the year that this became ours rather than theirs (the platforms). With the introduction of Facebook Connect, the revised Typepad/Typekey ID platform, and cross platform social intelligence solutions, this was the year that our digital walls started to fall.

    We are abondoning the destination, but we started making our destinations smarter, aggregated and customized. As noise increased, we redefined the signal to meet our needs. We stopped being a community by destination or platform, and became a meta-community of people, real people, living across multiple environments and multiple destinations.

    It’s not web.you, web.me or web.us. It’s web.life

  16. I can’t remember where I read it, but I agree with the sentiment that the-next-big-thing is mastering-the-last-big-thing. Will this carry us through 2009, not likely, but I do think it’s going to dominate the first quarter. We see the Obama administration making huge strides in using technologies from the last 2 years for governance (or at the very least pubic input).

  17. Tom, your blog post inspired me to write about my opinions on what will be social media’s legacy for 2008…

    In my opinion, companies realized that doing things the closed-off, aloof way is just sooo 2007. Instead, 2008 brought a spirit of openness and partnership… or at least the realization that it might be worth it to disclose some proprietary knowledge so that developers, both amateur and professional, can learn your product, become an evangelist, and help your site extend its capabilities — for free! Pure genius.

    The complete blog post (and my 2008 ‘big thing’) can be found here: http://julieminevich.com/definitive-social-media-aspect-of-2008/.


  18. I was wondering the same thing myself, what’s ‘cool’ now? I’m new to blogging (I know, welcome to four years ago) and I’ve just got the hang of it so I’m really hoping everyone doesn’t decide to move onto something new like Vlogging – ha! Imagine, a blog with a VIDEO! That’ll never happen.

  19. 2008 has been a time of social networking moving mainstream — with even middle-aged parents and grandparents joining Facebook in droves.

    In my own world, I’ve started to hear backlash about people’s time spent on social networks as they seek balance between online and personal relationships.

    Twitter noise has certainly filled the channel in 2008 with a myriad of niche-ey ways to enhance that experience. It still seems most “regular folks” are scratching their heads about Twitter’s value and don’t know why they’d need yet another destination to visit and maintain.

    2009 will be an interesting year!

  20. I believe that Twellow solved a very important need, enabling users to better locate Twitter’s participants based on a common area of expertise or other attribute.
    Other social media sites enhanced their own methods of categorization and organization.

    2008 also saw an increased interest among marketing executives in the use of social media. I remember
    reading one study that revealed that 50% of marketing
    execs now view social media as crucial in disseminating corporate communication.

  21. Welcome back here Tom. I’m delighted I clicked on you and found this wonderful thread. It’s an essay on current thinking and doing.
    I’ve noticed a big expansion in Facebook among all my extended family, especially over Christmas. So much so that I decided to join them and try it. I am impressed by it’s ability to do things ‘effortlessly’ (like let me display my blog posts, and upload photos, and tag them): it’s good for people who have few technical skills and simply want to do things without understanding the magic that makes them happen. I love how it lets you say what you’re doing right now. But most people don’t update that often. I’m thinking that when I pull together all my 2009 short inputs, it’ll be interesting to see what shape my mood had this year. It was the year I set myself an objective to grow my Facebook Friends (FFs) from 23 to 500 by December 2009 in order to cultivate a network of people who might be interested in my book about depression when that gets to publication stage. The year I found myself thinking seriously about how I could do more with less effort through making all the social networking tools I use fit seamlessly together.
    For me, 2008 was the year I discovered I could write a play on my mobile phone, in between waiting for the coffee to arrive. The year I used my phone to write stand-up comedy scripts in time that was never available to me, like when stuck in a traffic jam (with the engine turned off of course). It was the year I read that 7 of the top 10 selling novels in Japan were written on mobile phones.
    Like others, it was the year I realised how much unrealised potential there is for community-making and meaning-sharing. The gradual build up of frustrations that it doesn’t all come together yet, but bloody well might.
    Wherever you are, keep it up. Best wishes to all.

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