The ubiquitous social web

The first NetIKX networking event of 2012 focused on developments in social media tools and their potential applications.

The growth of social media

Steve Dale, Chair of the Online Information Conference, and Geoffrey Mccaleb  (a social media and mobile consultant) shared some statistics on the growth and uptake of social tools and thoughts about how they are likely to be used in the future.

When it comes to the growth of social media, the numbers are sometimes boggling.  Two thirds of the world's population visits a social network at least once a month.   Facebook has 800 million users and is projected to reach 1 billion users by the end of 2012.  With the rollout of its Timeline feature, and the development of apps that integrate with it, Facebook's strategic focus is now to encourage users to spend more time on the site, sharing more information with their social contacts.

Key trends for 2012

Engagement - social tools will be developing new functionalities and apps to encourage us to spend more time and engage in more information sharing and collaboration.  Marketing via personal recommendation will become the focus of more organisations.  The social web as a ‘conversation engine'

Curation - opportunities to identify content for specific audiences using our knowledge and insight using such tools as, scoop and storify.

Collaborative consumption - new trends in consumption and service provision will see an increase micro-entrepreneurs and localisation of products and services

Big data - US research highlighted the growth in roles for people who can analyse data sets and present findings to larger audiences .   This will be just one of the reasons for a growth in...

Visualisation and infographics - new ways of presenting information will mean a move away from a focus on written text

Gamification - new ways of encouraging interaction are bound to grow

Mobile platforms - by 2013, mobile devices will provide more people their online experiences than desktops.

Apps - their simplicity and low/free pricing means that people will have a different relationship with tools that provide a convenient way to increase the functionality of a device.  There will be less loyalty to tools

Location-based services, such as foursquare, provide a gaming experience and yet are really powerful recommendation engines.  By checking in, users are showing their friends they value a restaurant, a bar - or a library

Getting it wrong and getting it right

Some organisations are struggling to cope with elements of the new social landscape.  The CIA's failure to predict the Arab spring was partly at least due to its not monitoring social networks adequately.  The 'slow' response of Dominos to YouTube videos posted by employees (they delayed 48 hours) caused share prices to fall.   Other companies are faring better.  Southwest Airlines uses Twitter to instantly respond to customer complaints that have the potential to become viral. 

Increased focus on online reputation

It is not only organisations that need to manage and monitor their online reputations.  Companies are not only using sites such as LinkedIn to help with recruitment.  They are increasingly rejecting candidates because of something they have discovered about them online.   Personal brand, reputation and trustworthiness will become increasingly important online commodities.

What do users want and what questions should you be asking yourself?

  • Users want their data everywhere - what is your cloud strategy?
  • Users want simple tools and products - what is your app strategy?
  • Users want to see what is relevant to them - what is your graph strategy
  • Users want the same experience regardless of which device they are using - what is your mobile strategy? 
  • Users want social experiences - what is your social web strategy?

To find out more about NetIKX events, or to join, visit their website

Photo by nan palmero via Flickr.