1. Ubiquity:- the buzz and appeal of social networks for brands and companies will continue to grow as they seek involvement and interaction.
2. Long Tail reach:- social networks will become a sought after method of tapping into niche markets.
3. Grown-up networking:- higher numbers of over 35s will get involved
4. Anti-social networking:- increase in safeguards taken by network owners against online libel and efforts to run them in a ‘socially responsible’ way
5. Community:- Functionality isn’t everything. Even tool-based sites are moving towards building online communities
Not for the first time I was struck with the similarity with good offline practice. Its not right for every brand. It is possible to have too much of a good thing (how many different social networks would you really want to join at one time?). But the market will mature. I can see that it might well suit to have different social networks to serve different areas of your life – professional and personal for example, or for a specialist interest (or two). Perhaps Social networking brands will fragment to serve different markets. I was in a meeting late last year with a someone (actually it was Melanie Howard from The Future Foundation ) who said that her teenage daughter and all of her friends had simultaneously decided to take their profiles down from MySpace and disengage from the community.
This made me wonder why they felt it was no longer for them. Perhaps it felt to them like they needed to move on. Perhaps they felt that a different network was more suited for them. As always, its about the people. And as always, relevance is key. If it feels like it is ‘for me’ they will interact, if it doesn’t they will reject.