By Doyle Albee
President and New Media Practice Director
2010 will be “The Year of the Cheetah.” While I don’t think that’s really one of the animals to choose from on the Chinese calendar, I’ve chosen that headline for my 2010 predictions because I think that next year we will see substantive changes happen at light speed — or maybe I should say cheetah speed.
Why? Social media is starting to mature. We’ve already seen major shifts in leadership that few predicted, like Facebook displacing MySpace as the largest social network in the U.S. and the site’s continuing rapid growth. We’ve also seen some dramatic results and impacts to companies from social media activity — I’m thinking situations like the Motrin Moms and United Breaks Guitars — and we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg.
In 2010, The Year of the Cheetah, I think we’ll see the following fast changes:
- Continued consolidation of social media networks. In this arena, that means more networks will begin to cross-interact (updates from one community sent automatically to other communities, for example) and more communities will either fail or be acquired/merge with others.
- Many major media outlets will make bold moves — some of which will work, many of which will backfire — to generate revenue from their content in non-traditional ways. I believe this will fundamentally disrupt online news delivery and news search for the short term while everyone tries to figure out how best to make content profitable. I think we’ll see things implemented quickly and, if unsuccessful, pulled just as swiftly.
- I believe a major media outlet will try some sort of micro-payment system to allow users to access only what they want if they choose not to pay for an all-access subscription — maybe a nickel for a single story, for example. Interesting, but there could be a dark side. Widespread adoption could cause the business operations of news outlets to exert influence on reporters to write what’s profitable rather than what they believe to be the most important stories on a case-by-case basis.
- Online video will continue to grow, and I believe Hulu will offer a premium, ad-free paid service as well as expand their content offerings as a result of the Comcast acquisition. Also in video, the ability to watch more kinds of programming — like news and live sporting events — with higher quality feeds online will begin to take off, putting additional pressure on traditional broadcast and cable models.
- More news stories from major outlets will appear in Twitter feeds and Facebook updates (for example) while more reporters will provide personally branded analysis of the news — as opposed to simply top stories — in private, premium, paid feeds from their news organization. As a result, we’ll see more basic headline-type feeds in more places from recognized brands for free, but details and analysis will be what we pay for, making news personalities possibly more important than ever.
- First music, then movies and in 2010 book publishing becomes a major battleground for how content will be distributed, paid for and consumed.
- AT&T will drop more of my calls than they complete until the exclusive contract ends (rumored to by Q3) and my iPhone brethren and I can flee to someone else (read: anyone else).
Finally, I’d like to extend the warmest of wishes to our community for a prosperous and successful 2010. I look forward to again working with our talented community.