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January 11, 2010

Five Social Media Predictions for 2010

Do you think the evolution of social media defies prediction? The truth is, social media’s explosion in 2009 shares common traits with general business trends and the growth of the Internet itself.

For entrepreneurs, global brand teams, and key players in mission-driven organizations, heeding the signs of what’s ahead becomes the difference between survival and extinction. To help these professionals as they begin a brand-new year of opportunity, social marketing and success strategies firm Epiphanies, Inc. is sharing five trend-infused predictions for how social media will affect the business world in 2010.

1. “You” Goes Social

In 1997, business thought leader Tom Peters unleashed the concept of personal branding — “The Brand Called You” — to a new generation of daring doers. In 2009, Best Buy made headlines by requiring applicants for a senior marketing position to have a Twitter account with 250 Followers to qualify.

In the blogosphere, arguments ensued over that number. Still, the point is clear: The future of “The Brand Called You” is social. In fact, more than 80% of professional recruiters plan to use social media platforms to screen job applicants, and also source “passive” candidates – people who would consider a better offer from a different company.

Bottom line: Employees and entrepreneurs alike will discover, on a widespread level, their social media presence and social networks make or break their professional fates.

2. SSO Steals the Show

Back in the heady days of Web 1.0, a whole new industry cropped up around Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Gaming Google became a billion-dollar business, and they fought back with ever-changing algorithms. The only way to win over the long run was to consistently add information-rich, keyword-relevant content to your website

It works the same way inside social media platforms, too, with Social Search Optimization (SSO). As it becomes ever more important to be found inside Facebook and LinkedIn, and since Google and Bing are now aggressively indexing social media platforms, content continues its reign as king of the online realm.

Bottom line: Because social activity and relevant content inform search engine results, SSO trumps SEO with authority.

3. Professional Standards Proliferate

TraditiPagesonal marketing agencies have clued in to corporate interest in social media. Whether they add it as an in-house service or partner with a third party, these agencies know they have to offer social media services to stay competitive.

But how does anyone know who’s reputable, and who just hung out a shingle? To answer this as an industry, social media is going the way of other serious vocations. Certification programs are coming online, from Hubspot’s Inbound Marketing University to the International Social Media Association’s (ISMA) various designations for professionals and virtual assistants. Other programs, like Social Media Magic University, provide niche training, and brick-and-mortar colleges now offer social media coursework.

Bottom line: Social media education and accreditation will be a significant factor in 2010 hiring and outsourcing decisions.

4. Business-to-business (B2B) Gets It

As a rule, businesses that sell to consumers (B2C) adopt new communication tools before the B2B world does. Until now, B2B has been resistant to social media, but in 2010, the B2B world will get over their reluctance and start embracing it.

There have been enough success stories to make it happen. Avaya sourcing a $250K sale through Twitter. Serena Software reporting cost savings with its “Facebook Friday” network building. Blendtec’s “Will It Blend?” YouTube videos tied to a 700% sales jump. There’s no point in taking a “wait and see” approach anymore.

Bottom line: With 92% of B2B buyers using the Internet for their purchasing research, and social media ever more critical to being found online, B2B adoption will accelerate.

5. Networks Consolidate

Social media companies may not have found the right money-making business model yet, but the life cycle pattern looks very familiar: Introduction, Growth, Maturity, and Decline. In 2010, social media will officially shift from Growth to Maturity.

Minor microblogging sites are disappearing. Facebook adoption continues to accelerate, squeezing out smaller sites. Only 1/5th of all custom Ning sites were active earlier in 2009. Maturity is coming, and it’ll reveal its full force very soon.

Bottom line: Wikipedia currently lists 173 “major active social networking websites” (excluding dating websites). Expect this number to drop significantly in 2010.

With 2010 upon us, any fears of the new world of social media, of the loss of control, and of criticism need to be set purposefully aside or addressed head-on. More than anything else, it’s essential to take action now in the social arena. There’s simply too much to lose, and countless opportunities to gain.

As Certified Social Media Strategists and Certified Inbound Marketing Professionals, Lani and Allen Voivod of Epiphanies, Inc., train teams, craft strategies, and serve as long-term success partners for a handful of global brands, industries, and mission-driven organizations. Find out how they can help your business boost visibility, community, competitive edge, memberships, and profits at!