Will the Social Web Wane in 2008?

by Jay Deragon on 01/04/2008

Will the Social Web Wane in 2008?Everyone has an opinion, some based on an analysis of the data and some purely an emotional response to market and media stimuli. People are influenced by opinion as are businesses.

One’s own opinion on any subject matter can create a bias which then becomes influenced by an article or news report which supports the bias. There are always two sides to any story as there is always two opinions on any subject matter.

The growth and influence of the social web is creating diverse opinions coming from everywhere and everyone. Here is what the traditional media is saying:

Business Week recently gave us their opinion titled Facebook Fatigue which says ” Social network fatigue will set in as people tire of getting yet another invitation from so-called friends to join yet another social network. And, in the wake of Facebook’s fumbled social ads initiative, it will become even more apparent there’s no obvious way to pitch products on these sites without turning off members. Social features will wend their way into all kinds of Web services, from search to news, but the gold rush in social networks themselves will begin to wane.”

On the other end of the spectrum of opinions a Wall Street Journal article titled “Wall Street Firms Increasingly Adopt Web 2.0? the writer states “With their ability to foster online collaboration and build user communities, Web 2.0 technologies — including wikis, blogs, RSS feeds and social networking sites such as Facebook, Linkedin and MySpace — are attracting millions of people every day. In a bid to stay ahead of the curve and reach investors where they spend their time, Wall Street firms also have been exploring the Web 2.0 landscape: some cautiously while others have jumped in wholeheartedly — making their applications more compelling to their clients and their employees.

“The list of financial firms deploying Web 2.0 applications, both within the enterprise and externally, is growing. TD Ameritrade, Bear Stearns and Wells Fargo all have announced new 2.0 applications in the last few months. “Enterprise social networking is still in its exploratory stages,” observes Matthew Nelson, senior analyst with TowerGroup. [Ed. note: At press time, Nelson left TowerGrouo to join Omgeo as director, market intelligence.] “But it is going to become standard. The industry simply can’t afford not to go this way because that’s the way people in general — employees and customers — are shifting.”

Now here is what the people of the social web are saying and what businesses are doing as indicated by their conversations and adoption of the social web:

  1. Over 550 Million people global are engaged using the medium of the social web.
  2. The annual growth rate is in excess of 30% .
  3. IBM, Toyota, Wells-Fargo Bank, Nationwide Insurance, Bank of America, American Express and a host of other major brands have invested serious money into use of the social web to reach and converse with people.
  4. Business Week recently partnered with Linkedin to reach its 15 million + people with its news feed (Maybe the author of the recent article should have checked with the editors before making his prediction)
  5. The social web appeals to the innate desire of people to connect with people and converse freely. There are over 6 Billion people in the world yet to discover the enabling capability and self satisfaction of the social web. Just maybe it will continue to grow.

So what should one conclude based on the varying opinions?

Not that our opinion is the right opinion however the data and the emotions of the social web suggest to us that just maybe people have found outlets for open and responsive conversations with anyone, anywhere about everything and everyone. Just maybe people are tried of being put on hold when calling customer service, tired of conversing with machines, tired of business environments that squelch self expression and open conversations, just maybe.

But one might ask what about businesses themselves. Well just maybe business have figured out that to reach people the social web is just possibly an optimum tool for reach and richness. Maybe business are discovering the efficiency and effectiveness of the technology to facilitate multiple organizational objectives like speed to market, customer communications, employee participation, process efficiency and all that drives a business systemically. Just maybe and then again this is just another opinion.

What say you?

{ 5 comments }

Sunny February 4, 2008 at 11:05 pm

hi… this is not a rant… this is not a manifesto… it is a plea for someone to allay my fears… to calm my jittery nerves- (shh!! did you hear that?)

i’m not a doctor. i’m not a salesman. i have no P.H.D., M.B.A.- hell, i don’t even have a PDA… i’m just a person… an average person. i speak from my own perspective… i have no ‘agenda’ or cause. i am watching this phenom called the internet with a mixture of curiosity and confusion… and oh yeah, caution.

i have a myspace account (59 friends; member for 3 years; have had my password haxxed only once), i have yahoo IM & 360 accounts ( get spam and scams constantly), and i had a friendster account (2 friends…zzzzzzz) … i will not be looking to join another ‘social web’, until i have more information… and assurances.

i am deeply (read: DEEPLY!!!!!) concerned about personal privacy issues as they relate to being tracked, hacked, and monitored… yes, call me paranoid… i was not always this way.

i can foresee a time when my personal information might be compromised by any number of private, corporate, or governmental agents… where my data, my thoughts, and my secrets become public, and where my friends and freedoms may be adversely affected IRL, by my involvement with seemingly innocuous ‘social webs’.

i’m not rich… i’m not very smart… and i’m not overly political. i’m not a terrorist… i’m not an activist… and i’m not a criminal- yet. i see trends in our world that may potentially land me on a list somewhere… i don’t always agree with govt. policy… i’m not careful about the sites i visit… and i’m not clever enough to know how to cover my all my tracks. i’ve viewed clips of 911 conspiracies, waterboarding, UFO’s and even a little pron… i’ve researched Islamic ideology… i’ve used P2P software… AND, i’ve used social webs to discuss these (and many more), issues with friends.

can any of you convince me that 1984 is far enough behind us that i may relax now? i know that demographics and ‘social’ information are routinely gathered from these sites (-that’s what they’re bold enough to tell me http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/low/technology/7187680.stm)… and i have read disturbing things regarding some popular social webs that i don’t feel comfortable discussing in a public forum… i know my IM’s and e-mails are scanned for keywords… i know i am being watched… but i don’t have anything to hide- yet.

i don’t enter any personal info into little boxes anymore… Sunny is not my real name… entering my e-mail addy to post this was more than i am comfortable with. many EULA’s now state plainly that my information is not private and that i waive my rights by clicking submit. i don’t trust anyone online… period. i do have a bank account which is accessible online and it makes me a bit nervous, but as i said- i’m not rich, so i don’t have much to lose.

if i enter a site and a flash player autoloads a song or i get a pop-up, i immediately close the window, and will not return. it’s not that i am afraid of being infected (though perhaps i should http://www.heise-security.co.uk/news/100989), it just that i don’t like things happening that i don’t expect or want… i want to choose my environment- and to feel safe… typically, i don’t feel safe.

i do not subscribe to blogs… but after reading a month’s worth, i have subscribed to this one. i sense the importance of what is being discussed here. i hear remarkable voices of sanity and even optimism … i might even consider coming out of the shadows to participate (quietly), in a social web that seems to value relationships (or at least shows respect for the human factor)… i can’t help feeling like some hungry skulking mongrel, sniffing suspiciously at the hand offering scraps… i might be willing to trust… just don’t make any sudden moves.

i find your work to be insightful, accurate, and best of all plentiful… i notice that you don’t get comments on every post- i may go through them all and give each one a wee shout-out, lest you think your hard work was in vain. (let’s don’t and say i did) keep it up… this is good stuff, really… you know, i have–

shhh- did you hear that? … i gotta go…

Harrison Rose January 5, 2008 at 3:52 pm

I fully agree with your fist couple of paragraphs, as a broad generality.

When I was in business school at USC (Executive MBA program), I had a professor who provided a fascinating, statistical and research based general view of industry dominance. It seemed that this applied to almost any industry, and it is one of the tools I have used now for 20 years.

Within the dominance game for an industry, market forces seem to settle on three distinct market leaders that will usually divide a market into 40%-20%-10% with the remaining 30% being divided among niche players. As a market gets more mature, the leaders will eat up niche players reducing the outlying circle and increasing the difference between the major players. In some circumstances, the three leaders can evenly split the majority of the market, especially when their differentiation is perceived to be minor. The data books for time and materials estimation was a good example of this in 1989. Chilton, Motor and Mitchell each had about 27% to 30% of the automotive repair information market, with the remaining being shared by tiny niche players. This was a very mature market and ripe for technologically enhanced change, which happened. Another industry that can be used as an example is today’s computer operating system space for the desktop and server markets. The dynamics rarely allow for four to share the huge majority of industry market.

We are already seeing this happen in the technology generated social network space. I don’t know what the market share is for LinkedIn, Plaxo Pulse, Facebook, and MySpace, plus the hundreds of niche sites that either license the underlying technology of the leaders, or have developed specialty markets to be served with an evolved focus. But, I can give you an example of a newer SN site that is highly specialized and growing like mad: nextcat.com. Nextcat focuses on the Creatives within the entertainment industry, with the obvious overlap to the business development and producer subset of the same industry.

I believe that the issue that is raised in the Newsweek article is on the financial basis of comparison, where the question of sustainable revenue streams is such a challenge. With a niche SN group the revenue stream is much smaller, but more confident. With a corporate site that uses SN, the purpose is to generate customer or vendor alliance. Hence, when we try to look at SN as an infrastructure for a mass market, the trouble really begins.

Best regards,

Harrison Rose
Silicon Valley
650-207-5224

Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/harrisonrose89
Blog: http://hmr-in-sv.blogspot.com/

Michael Pokocky January 4, 2008 at 11:07 pm

What one has to understand is the Social Web are conversations. Some conversations get amplified while others don’t. And nobody has a clue yet as to why.

The key for business is the seamless integration of their brand message.

The key for Social Networks is to facilitate a balance between its users and its advertisers where the messages of the brand do not interfere with the enjoyment of the user experience.

History has shown that although television was completely modeled on the basis of advertising revenues the television business model didn’t fail because the content was in demand.

Things have changed now that the consumer is in charge simply because they have so many choices and this clearly has created a conundrum with traditional media content delivery.

Frankly nobody really knows how all of this is going to play itself out but my guess is human nature will be the Governing Factor for the social web in the coming years and we will see innovative and creative ways for advertising and content to co-exist. The numbers are just to large to ignore.

miro slodki January 4, 2008 at 4:14 pm

jay

the post i just left was somehow disembowled
will regather my thoughts and repost later
feel free to remove the disembowled version
Miro

miro slodki January 4, 2008 at 4:10 pm

Social web will change in a number of fundamental ways

Any labor/time intensive venture ie Blogging will see some
contraction as the disenchanted move elsewhere and/or do other things.

My 2 cents

Cheers
Miro

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