Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The New Social Network

In his blog this week, social media maven Chris Brogan crystal-balls the future of online communities.  

Brogan believes tomorrow's communities will be:

Wide-ranging.  "People refuse to talk about you all in one place," Brogan says.  As a result, marketers will have to invest a lot more time monitoring multiple communities.  Keeping up with all of them will be "the hardest thing to manage in the future."

Mobile.  They have far to go, but location-based apps will eventually be all the rage, especially for "tribes" of like-minded nomads.

Loyalty-based.  Today's loyalty programs are annoyances.  "Sign up and we’ll bother you until you buy."  But tomorrow's will feel like genuine relationships and provide a "feeling like you’re on the inside."

Cause-oriented.  Marketers will build cause into communities in the future.  "Putting a bunch of people together who love Snickers bars isn’t all that interesting," Brogan says.  "Putting people who love Snickers together to work at a soup kitchen to feed the homeless would be a lot more interesting."

Single-identity.  People will stop supplying each and every platform a separate biography.  Instead, they'll use identity-sharing tools that allow them to port one profile across all the platforms.  

Two-way.  In the future, marketers will have to become measurably more engaged in the virtual conversations taking place everywhere.  If they don't, "things will go poorly for other efforts to build relationships and sell," Brogan warns.  But the added investment won't come easily, because "there’s a lot of time and effort involved, and it’s not directly tied back to obvious or instant revenue."
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