7 Social Media & Web Analytics Predictions for 2009

Here’s my Social Media and Web Analytics Predictions for 2009 – like the Financial Predictions 2009 that I released a few days ago, I’ll try to support my predictions with some of the sources and reasoning for each prediction.

1. Continued Growth of Social Networking Via Facebook Connect – right now, it’s a manual process to make Facebook work as authentication, but within 6 months, not only will it become much easier to implement Facebook Connect, fully – but the functions you’ll be able to add will multiply and by the end of 2009, many sites, including online newspapers, will build on Facebook Connect or a system like it.


Add Facebook Connect to Your Blog in 8 Minutes from Dave Morin on Vimeo.

However, due to the growth of Facebook Connect and Google‘s Friendfeed (do I have the name right?)  Niche social networks will continue to fail identity management provide moves into the cloud and sites begin to offer more social networking services connected with Facebook – there by .

2.  Massive investment in the Information Super Highway as part of Obama’s Economic Stimulus package.  Recently I wrote a post on  Jobs of the Future – New Economy and who may be playing key roles in it – while a lot of emphasis was being put on rebuilding our highways and physical infrastructure – we’re actually far behind in out information and cellular infrastructure – speeding and broadening that up will also have to happen for the United States to compete in the Global Market. Thomas L. Friedman wrote a post on Time to Reboot America where Tom Friedman compared Hong Kong and the United States :

“….  If we’re so smart, why are other people living so much better than us? What has become of our infrastructure, which is so crucial to productivity? Back home, I was greeted by the news that General Motors was being bailed out — that’s the G.M. that Fortune magazine just noted “lost more than $72 billion in the past four years, and yet you can count on one hand the number of executives who have been reassigned or lost their job.”

My fellow Americans, we can’t continue in this mode of “Dumb as we wanna be.” We’ve indulged ourselves for too long with tax cuts that we can’t afford, bailouts of auto companies that have become giant wealth-destruction machines, energy prices that do not encourage investment in 21st-century renewable power systems or efficient cars, public schools with no national standards to prevent illiterates from graduating and immigration policies that have our colleges educating the world’s best scientists and engineers and then, when these foreigners graduate, instead of stapling green cards to their diplomas, we order them to go home and start companies to compete against ours.

To top it off, we’ve fallen into a trend of diverting and rewarding the best of our collective I.Q. to people doing financial engineering rather than real engineering.”

There’s an indirect tie in to Social Media and Web Analytics – as money that goes into building IT Infrastructures is money that goes into increasing traffic flow that begs to be measured – and communications that, more and more, will be happening asynchronously.

Therefore, I predict that Economic Stimulus will be good for both Social Media and Web Analytics as it will indirectly support both.

3. Newspapers massively move to content creation and subcontract printing presses in 2009 and  Jeff Jarvis has written quite a lot about the future of Newspapers (who are rapidly dying) in posts like Can the LA Times turn off its presses?

Jeff Jarvis talked about the LA Times financial problems recently, but he might as well have been talking about the New York Times, Minneapolis Star Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle and a host of other major newspapers that are losing money rapidly –

“…. Clearly, by getting rid of print production and distribution, the LA Times not only gets rid of huge costs – which usually amount to at least half a newspaper’s budget – it also loses both circulation revenue and advertising revenue, which is much higher than digital revenue. As Westphal pointed out in our email exchange, some digital advertising is tied in bundles to print advertising and so the risk is that getting rid of print would hurt digital. But I suspect the opposite would happen: Some of that print advertising will now be forced online. Indeed, I’ve long argued that newspapers should force both readers and advertisers to online – to the future – and turning off the presses would do that.

There’s no question that the scale of the business would be smaller, much smaller. But with only edit and advertising sales costs (I’d market only during the transition) it could be a profitable business – a profitable digital journalistic business. That is the promised land. Welcome to the future.”

4. I agree with Charlene Li (see her Predictions for 2009) that Facebook’s SocialRank algorithms emerge to drive the open social web.  Right now, Facebook Connect is enabling me to post on TechCrunch using my Facebook Identity – that mean Facebook starts to know more and more about where I’m going and others who also comment on the same blogs and the same posts will be linked – suggesting that Friends will be recommended and asynchronous relationships formed, perhaps on the fly.  Here’s what Charlene wrote:

“… In much the same way that Google has PageRank to understand the relevancy of Web pages to your search, Facebook will debut a “SocialRank” algorithm which determines which of your friends are most relevant and important to the task at hand. Tapping the algorithm that already drives News Feed, Facebook will make SocialRank available on Facebook Platform applications and Friend Connect partners, drawing on the implicit data stream created in these other environments to prioritize the relationships that matter in that context. The result: Facebook will strike a significant advantage as the leader in the open social Web, thus “opening” up while maximizing the value of their proprietary network.”

5. Web Analytics is going to remain status-quo in 2009; meanwhile, Google Analytics will continue to gain ground while Omniture and Coremetrics stop growing marketshare.   Work is Web Analytics is as good as can be expected, given the economy – as talked about in Eric T. Peterson’s New data on the state of web analytics in 2009 where …..

“…. we conducted a poll on the call asking about planned 2009 investment in technology and human resources for web analytics, in part because of the amazing response to my post about Web Analyics being recession proof? For the 251 responses we got, here is what we heard:

Regarding investment in technology and tools:

  • 36 percent said they planned to spend more in 2009 than they did in 2008
  • 50 percent said they would be spending about the same in 2009 as they did in 2008
  • Only 14 percent said  they would be spending less in 2009 than they did in 2008

Regarding staffing and resources for web analytics projects:

  • 26 percent said they would be increasing staffing levels in 2009 compared to 2008
  • 70 percent said staffing levels would stay about the same in 2009 as they were in 2008
  • Only 4 percent said they would be decreasing staffing levels in 2009 compared to 2009 (phew!)

Finally, regarding web analytics in general in their organization:

  • 47 percent said that senior management considers web analytics a priority investment
  • 29 percent said that senior management considers web analytics a discretionary investment
  • 24 percent said that senior management had poor visibility into their web analytics efforts

Now I’m a little suspicious of these numbers, especially the 47 percent saying that senior management considers web analytics a priority investment which sounds high to me by about half.  Keep in mind that there is clearly bias in this sample since respondents were DMA members with an expressed interest in web analytics …

If you believe these numbers it certainly sounds like 2009 will be somewhat stagnant in the industry compared to the last few years of rocket-like growth.

Perhaps “stagnant” is good, if you consider the alternatives.

6. Better Metrics for Social Media begin to emerge in 2009. There’s certainly a call for it among several leading authorities in Social Media today such as Joseph Jaffe, Todd Defren, Rohit Bhargava, Pete Blackshaw.

In fact, I know there will be movement here at the Web Analytics Association is working on Social Media Standards, drafts of which will be released in the Spring of 2009, from the latest information I have.

But I’d also like to point out here – that Social Media  committee – my co-chairs Jared Freedman and Elena Haliczer and I got the ball rolling in mid 2007 – though, of late, the Standards Committee is doing most of work. The WAA will yield it’s first drafts for comment in 2009 including Social Bookmarking, Streaming Media, Blogs, Widgets and a few other standards.

Here’s a video from 18 months ago of dinner with Gary Angel and I, after I had just been elected to Board of the Web Analytics Association.  It was Gary Angel’s suggestion that we focus the new committee on Social Media Standards – btw, ignore my cackling laugh in the video.

There’s also a video that Jim Sterne left for the Social Media committee - showing the WAA was working, through our committee – perhaps we were the very first group to formally start Social Media Standards in 2007 (see below).

To be sure, I was still basking in glow of just being elected to the Board of Directors in 2007 – as time has gone on, I’ve found, finding consensus for Social Media extremely difficult to focus, not only in Corporate America, but even in the WAA, itself – and much of that early “glow” has worn off and been replaced with a more “realistic” view of what can and will be accomplished in organizations, such as the WAA and IAB.

In the Social Media community – there’s been an expressed desire for Social Media Standards and 2009 we’ll see the first batch come out – how helpful they will be, remains to be seen.

7. Social Media will earn an established place in Corporate Life by end of 2009, much as Search and Web Analytics have, but it will come about through the backdoor of Search Engines – mostly due to Google’s introduction of SearchWiki late this year.

I wrote about liking the Google Search Wiki though some others, don’t and while there has been a bit of resistance – people are accepting Searchwiki as a fact of life -and Google is learning what they need to modify the search ranking alogrithym based on what the community of searchers for a particular keyword phase are using.

Also, at LeWeb 08 this year (I didn’t attend this year – but was at LeWeb 07 in Paris, last year) it was mentioned that Google may use the SearchWiki to change results where there are “strong signals” …. right now the search wiki results are not being used to influence wider search ut there is a possibility of us doing so – when we see really large signals, ie, a thousand people making the same deletion“.

Meanwhile Mike Grehan has been working on a new book on on New Signals to Search Engines which you can download here.  Among the things Mike says -that will be true in 2009- Collective Intelligence, the wisdom of your friends, will determine the search results.

While 2008 saw the emergence of SearchWiki and personalize search results – 2009 will accelerate that trend, and by the end of the year, what we call SEO will be largely superseded by social search and a host of new tools to collect information off the Social Web.

As so much Online Revenue is generated by Search Engines now, Social Search will, as a result, pave the way for Social Media to gain the same acceptance that Search and Web Analytics currently have.

This has been a long post – and in many ways, is incomplete.

In some ways, predicting 2009 ought to be easier than predicting the past couple of years – certain “facts” like the state of the Global Economy lead to inescapable conclusions on what is coming next.

However, on the other hand, we’re also so close the coming “next shift” or “Event Horizon” that we can’t enough distance to get a clear perspective on what’s coming next (because we’re right on top of it) – so in that sense, 2009 is harder to predict than previous years.

I think that at the end of 2009 what we call Web Analytics (today) and Social Media (today) might end up being called something else, another name, and perhaps, new organizations will evolve to take both disciplines, merge them and bring them into maturity.

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