With the year of 2011 in social media thoroughly recapped and analyzed by Mashable, it’s time to set our sights on the year ahead. While I recently shared my predictions for media and advertising, there are some broader social media trends with big implications that are worth identifying.
Be sure to add your own predictions here or on our open thread, where Mashable readers have been sharing their own ideas for what might lay ahead in the New Year.
With more than 800 million users, Facebook is running into a nice problem to have: There are only so many more people to add. While the site will continue to grow in emerging markets that are only now getting online, Mark Zuckerberg has shifted the conversation to sharing and engagement, arguing that sharing on Facebook grows exponentially and that users will double the amount they share each year.
That sharing is driving users to spend more time on site — the average Facebook user now spends nearly seven-and-a-half hours on the site each month, up from four-and-a-half hours just two years ago. With the arrival of Timeline, increased focus on media and entertainment consumption, and continued growth in social games, engagement will surge even further in 2012.
The “death of the page view” as a meaningful metric has long been predicted, but never seems to materialize. While I don’t see that happening in 2012 either, I do see the rise of new metrics that measure social engagement and price advertising and sponsorship dollars accordingly.
We’ve already seen the likes of Klout and Ad.ly develop business models around charging for influence. More recently, Starcom MediaVest Group, a subsidiary of Publicis, teamed up with ShareThis to pilot a new metric for ad buying that values content based on how often content is shared and how impactful those shares are. While 2012 won’t see traditional models like CPM and CPC advertising thrown out the window, look for new metrics to make a meaningful impact as sharing becomes central to more media companies.
While Google TV has been widely dubbed a flop, the company is planning on a full-fledged reboot in 2012 and is optimistic to say the least. Google-owned YouTube will undoubtedly be a default “channel” on all of those devices. At the same time, YouTube is investing heavily in premium programming, as well as designing user experiences for the big screen. When you combine these two forces — not to mention the prospect of an Apple TV and other emerging players in the connected TV space — YouTube is poised to disrupt the television landscape. We’ll likely get a glimpse at what lies ahead for YouTube in the living room next week at CES, where the company is set to host a press conference.
I’ve often said that social media is no longer about “the next Facebook or Twitter.” While I think that remains true, for the first time in several years there’s a meaningful second tier of social networks emerging.
In 2011, sites like Pinterest and Tumblr experienced hockey stick growth, going from niche to mainstream in short order. In 2012, additional services like Instagram, Quora and Path are positioned to carve out significant audiences as users look for more personalized and curated experiences than the top tier social networks can deliver. Google+ will also continue to make noise as the search giant pulls more levers to try and make its biggest social bet to date pay off.
It might be easy to dismiss the current surge of investments in startups by celebrities as a signal of another bubble. However, unlike the last bubble, many of those celebrity investors now have audiences of millions online that they can turn into users of the products and services they invest in. When there’s a strong brand fit — like Kim Kardashian and ShoeDazzle — the celebrity investment and integration can directly drive growth and revenue.
With more traditional areas for investment languishing, startup valuations remaining frothy and social media continuing to expand, look for celebs to keep allocating a portion of their wealth toward startup investments. Here’s a look at some of the celebrities currently invested in startups:
Startup Investments: Lady Gaga and fellow celebrity Kanye West invested $7.5 million in Turntable.fm – a website that allows you to experience and discover music online with your friends. Users can rate music with their friends by clicking either the “Awesome” or “Lame” button, or become a DJ by spinning tunes with other DJs on the site.
Image courtesy of LadyGaga.com
Startup Investments: Movie star Leonardo DiCaprio contributed to the $4 million raised for social media platform Mobli, a website that enables users to see the world through other people’s eyes.
Through Mobli, users can quickly and easily share videos and photos of their experiences or interests in real-time. Each experience can be shared with like-minded communities.
Image courtesy of LeonardoDiCaprio.com
Startup Investments: In addition to investing in social media website MySpace and contributing to the $2 million raised for Stipple, Justin Timberlake recently poured his money into photo website Dekko.
Dekko combines different domains of technology to change the way users understand the world through pictures.
Image courtesy of Flickr edwardk662
Startup Investments: Will Ferrell launched his comedy video website, Funny or Die, in 2007 with the video “The Landlord.” The video was viewed nearly 80 million times and the website now develops and hosts videos from Hollywood stars and aspiring celebrities.
Users can upload videos they consider to be funny and can also vote on which videos are funny and which should be removed from the site.
Image courtesy of Flickr Neil Dorgan
Startup Investments: Ashton Kutcher is definitely the star of startup investments, with investments made in more than 10 companies.
Kutcher’s startup investments include the following, among others:
Image courtesy of Flickr jdlasica
Startup Investments: At the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, M.C. Hammer announced his investment in WireDoo, a “deep search” engine that includes relational information in results. For example, a search for a specific car will also generate results relating to the model, mileage, specs and even the zipcode.
WireDoo is not available to the public as yet, but anyone can sign up on the website to test drive the Beta.
M.C. Hammer has also co-founded and invested in DanceJam, a website that allows users to upload videos of themselves dancing.
Image courtesy of Flickr O’Reilly Conferences
Startup Investments: While there is no proof that the Canadian singer and actor is investing in tech-startups, a video of Justin Bieber playing basketball with Phoenix Suns player Steve Nash certainly hints at the idea.
One of the basketball players in the video was Mike Duda, co-partner of Nash’s venture capital firm, Consigliere Brand Capital. Consigliere has invested in three startups based in New York — StellaService, Chloe & Isabel and Birchbox. Bieber may be on his way to becoming the next startup investor among celebrities.
Startup Investments: Celebrity stylist Kim Kardashian co-foundedShoedazzle, a site that chooses shoes for its users based on their personal style.
For $39.95 per month, users get a box of shoes, a bag or jewelry that they can keep for 30 days. If they don’t like the style, they can return their item and Shoedazzle will refund the money.
Image courtesy of KimKardashian.celebuzz.com
New phishing and malware scams emerge on the web every day. With smartphone adoption continuing to rise and smartphone users continuing to adopt apps and social media on their devices, the same threats of the web are now arriving on mobile phones — and they may actually be amplified.
For example, security firm Trusteer estimates that “mobile users accessing phishing websites are three times more likely to submit their login info than desktop users,” as a result of scams being harder to spot. The rise of mobile ad networks and third-party app stores also represent new risks.
While social media has emerged as a viable way for retailers to gain followers and broadcast deals, making social central to the shopping experience is still a largely untapped way to drive sales and increase margins. In 2012, look for more businesses to setup shop within the walls of Facebook, personalize their ecommerce sites based on your “taste graph” from Facebook and Twitter, and increase participation in communities like Tumblr and Pinterest where users organically share their purchases and wish lists. It’s also an area that’s starting to see big investment dollars flow in from the likes of Marc Andreessen.
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