You’re going to miss 2010.
In five years we’ll look back and realize that this was a simpler day. A lack of established business models and rules gave some the belief that a free Hootsuite account, a mantra of “Just do it” and being “open and authentic” would make them a social media ninja.
By 2015, people will already look back at 2010 as a “digital love-in” with the nostalgia that aging hippies harbor for the ’60s. So much was just about to change, and nobody imagined the digital horizon was about to be turned upside down.
In 2015, being socially unlisted will be a status symbol
At first social media looked like a pathway to “hyper-empowered” consumers. That’s because consumers were first movers in social media. As they connected to each other and shared knowledge, they found a new source of power
But once firms started to connect and share their views of the social grid, their superior analytic horsepower began to turn the tables on consumers. Phone companies use network analysis of who you speak to, as social networks turn into data maps of association, and location-aware phones tell advertisers which displays slowed you in their stores. Suddenly, automation, analytics and lots of available personal data produced “hyper-empowered” marketers.
Once firms can map who really brings friends with them when they change accounts or promote causes, a new set of social media scores will became as important and formalized as credit scores. Chris Selland describes this in his post on how Klout Score is the start of corporate profiling of customers, just as FICO credit scores are used to understand credit history. Chris says there’s a business opportunity, but its not what today’s social zealots think it is.
It may have once been liberating to think of “brand YOU”. But once firms can calculate the exact value of your brand to them, they can judge consumers, and to some degree make being their promoter part of your relationship to them. The self-objectifying scoring of social media is training a generation to buy and sell their own bodies by the pound. The game is fun, until everyone’s in on it.
In 2015 Social Media Will Hardly Be Personal
As social media is professionalized, it will also become depersonalized. By 2015 everyone will know that digital lives are performances. By then, it will seem ludicrous that real athletic or entertainment performers would be personally using social media to connect with fans, any more than they connect with fans call-in programs.
Sure you can “talk with Shaq” on Twitter. But to work at scale, everyone will know this is a digital characterization, same as when we “talk” online with the Cookie Monster or the King from Burger King.
Naturally, as social media becomes less personal, corporations will be more at home with it. Social media was once the way that geeks could bypass customer service and get to “a person.” Far before 2015, social media will be just one more incoming line of contact, and you’ll get the same staff that you’d reach through the 800 line. Just as VPs don’t answer many service lines today, they won’t be picking up on social media mentions. There will be a team for that, and what management needs to know will roll-up to a dashboard.
Yep, tie dyes, leisure suits, and button-downs each had their day. The same is true of technology trends. The dot.com smugfest gave way to a crop of “social media ninjas.” But 2010 is when corporations started to operationalize social meda, and use this new channel with skill. That’s a good thing, but its a sign of a maturing space where experts will increasingly have real experience, and hiring managers won’t look to social media gasbags to tell them about openness or to think like publishers.
In fact, it’s 2011 and these old saws already seem kind of quaint. Do you think social media is starting to show its age? Though media never dies, neither does new media stay new indefinitely.