Five Social Media Trends to Watch in Early 2010

In coming months, there are at least five trends in social media that you should watch. They are:

Merging of Search and Social Media

Bing is helping to power search results on Facebook, tweets are appearing in Google results, and Facebook Connect is allowing for passing of data into sites like TripAdvisor. Consumers want to know what their social graph likes and dislikes on almost everything; 90 percent of people trust recommendations from peers, according to the Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey in 2009. The merging of search and social helps this information sharing become a reality.

Cable Providers Increased Interest in Social Media

We are already starting to see Comcast advertisements touting the ability to tweet and update your Facebook status via your television-viewing experience. Television network news viewership is in the decline, while social media has enabled us to no longer search for the news, but rather have the news find us. If you can’t beat them, join them.

Increased Social Media Access via Mobile

Facebook Zero, Apple iPad, tweeting Fords, Nanos with video capability, and so on. Advancements like these are helping to drive the use and access of social media via mobile. This intuitively makes sense because people are constantly on the go and social media is comprised of people. Facebook recently indicated that 25 percent of its users – or roughly 100 million – primarily access Facebook via mobile methods. A recent study in the U.K. showed that 50 percent of all mobile data usage was tied to Facebook, according to this report citing GSMA Mobile Media Metrics.

E-reader Collaboration via Social Media

Whatever the e-reader of choice (Nook, eReader, Kindle, iPad) readers want to be able to share notes. It will be insightful to see what’s the most highlighted sentence in J.D. Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye.” For students, this is a tremendous opportunity. Historically, college students have prayed that the used book they purchased was previously owned by an A+ student. Now it’s technically possible to see the digital notes and highlights from all the A+ students who have read the book across the globe and not just at your particular university.

This is a tremendous boon for the advancement of knowledge. It benefits students and authors alike. Most college textbooks are often revised; now the author has the insight and knowledge to properly revise the book for the most salient points of interest, or correct points of confusion.

E-book costs will likely drop, too. My guess is they will cost between $3 to $10 depending on the book. Site and networks that supply free digital books will likely increase in popularity as well. Look for services that connect authors and advertisers for product placement within books. Why say soda when you can say Coke and earn product placement marketing dollars? Why say “Italian restaurant” when you can say “Carmine’s” with a hyperlink to this establishment in Times Square, New York City, known for its pre-theater dinners?

Social Media Legal Issues

Laws have had difficulties keeping up with technology advances. This holds true in social media. Look for clarification around this specific item: If a company is using social media monitoring tools like a Radian6 or Filtrbox to capture what is being said about their product or service, does this increase their liability? It might.

If a social media monitoring tool shows that a disgruntled employee posted something publicly about doing harm to other employees prior to the eventual act – should something have been done about it? How liable will companies be for conversations happening on the Web? It’s certainly a daunting task to act on every potential harmful possibility or post. This can range from Toyota’s faulty breaks to a student or employee going “postal.” It will be important to see where the courts eventually rule on this.

Also, look for further clarification around how highly regulated industries (pharmaceuticals, law, heath, government, etc.) can engage within social media. My hope is that these organizations can better help consumers without fear of increased liability.

While these are just a few items to look for in coming months, there are other trends that we can’t fathom right now. But taking note of these five particular trends should keep you ahead of the curve for now.

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