In fact, even cartoonists have predicted the future with Dick Tracy’s phone watch becoming a real device.
Watching technology weave its magic is summed up in the quote by the science fiction writer, Arthur C. Clarke.
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic“.
Who would have thought that social gaming would become a multi-billion dollar business in just two years with Zygna (the creators of Farmville and Mafia Wars on Facebook) now the most valuable games company in the world with annual revenues set to pass $1 billion next year. Zygna has filed for an IPO this year with its value estimated at between $15 billion and $20 billion.
One of the major drivers of changes to society and technology is the evolution of the mobile phone from a dumb device that just makes calls and texts to a web connected “smart phone”.
Trend One: Social Mobile
The invention and evolution of the computer in your hand, the “smart phone” that is connected to high speed broadband Internet is revolutionizing our communications and society. Facebook and Twitter apps are enabling people to take their social networks with them. The latest change to this ongoing trend is that Twitter is now embedded in the Apple iOS5 mobile operating system at the menu layer. Twitter has seen user acquisition increase by 300% since the launch.
Does this signal the end of the humble simple “text”?
Trend Two: Socialization of Search
Google’s search results are determined by complex algorithms designed and developed by hundreds of clever mathematicians wearing white lab coats and calculated by computers in dark humming data centers.
Google has started rolling out its “+1” button that they are starting to indicate will be the start of the rise of “social signals” that will be used to determine what content is being voted on as valuable by humans rather than just machines.
Google and Bing have increased the visibility and priority of social networks in search results. You may have noticed over the last 12 months that YouTube videos, Facebook pages and LinkedIn profiles and other social media are ranking higher in search results when conducting an online search.
Trend Three: Geo-Targeting of Social Media Marketing
The rise of FourSquare and Google “Places” has made checking in for specials in your local area a reality…. again driven by the “smart phone”. The mobile web will continue to make a major impact over the next 5 years as the worlds more than 5 billion phones become “Smart” .
Another part of this local social marketing trend is the new development of post code targeting capability in social media marketing on Facebook which is being rolled out in the USA.
The self serve paid Facebook marketing platform is now starting to include postcodes along with the other demographic data that Facebook has in its database about you.
Trend Four: Social Commerce
E-Commerce has been with us for nearly 15 years and is now producing a major negative impact on “bricks and mortar” stores that are not also online. It is predicted that 20% of total retail sales will be online over the next few years.
Over the last 12 months technology has emerged that allows you to take your shop (via “Apps”) to the Facebook “network” so that users do not have to leave the Facebook eco-system to buy their favourite brands. In fact many of the worlds top bands and musicians have their own Facebook store on their “Fan Page”
Commerce is now becoming “Omni Commerce”
Trend Five: Social Gaming
Games used to be played on a field or park, around a board in the middle of a table or with a deck of cards. Gaming has been redefined with the evolution of “Social Gaming” enabled by rich multi-media and easy to use social networks.
Zygna (which was only founded in 2007) has usurped traditional gaming companies by developing Farmville and Mafia Wars that is currently played by 230 million Facebook users every month. In 2010 Facebook and Zygna signed a 5 year agreement on the use of Facebook credits which returns 30% of all games revenues to Facebook. Revenues will exceed $1 billion in 2012 which is achieved through the sales of “virtual” products.
Trend Six: Global Magazine Super Blogs
Publishing is transforming rapidly from offline print to online platforms with the rise of global blogs that attract tens of millions of readers every month.
Huffington Post which started as a political blog was recently sold to AOL for $315 million. Traffic to these these blogs are driven by social networks and the Huffington Post handles over 1 million comments every month from more than 35.6 million unique visitors. In fact in June, 2010, traffic to the Huffington Post passed the doyen of traditional media, The New York Times.
Blogs on various topics from social media (Mashable) politics, food and technology are attracting millions of global readers every month.
Trend Seven: Global Micro Niche Business
Niche industries were in the past restricted by geography, technology and the tyranny of distance. Now they are able to become multi-million dollar enterprises with the global reach of social media that is not restricted by place, time and poor logistics.
It is not only the revenue of these social network enabled businesses that surpasses the previously location bound industries but the speed at which they scale which is due to the virality of social networks including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
By the way ladies you do have to admire the “WonderJock”!
Social networks and media accelerate the speed and the leverage of the global reach of businesses that have not been seen before in the history of commerce.
The other driver that is essential to these changes is the rise of the mobile enabled “smart phone”.
Expect to continue to see more traditional industries disrupted by young technology upstarts that are social media savvy!
What other social media trends do you think are important and worth watching?