Organizing Chaos in 2010

Those who ponder the power and possibilities of social media—and its role in our organizations, lives, and culture are all positing predictions for 2010. But, at the end of the day, the big question on everyone’s lips seems to be, “What is the next big thing”? Will it be about catching the Google Wave, the open source document sharing platform—or will our growing mobile obsession drive the success of location-based applications like Foursquare and Brightkite?

Even the experts are unsure. However, I’m not sure forecasting the next Twitter is really the useful question—particularly for those us who focus on leveraging social media in a business context. Most thoughtful professionals I know—particularly in the educational advancement and alumni space—are looking for ways to harness the tools that are already in play more effectively and strategically. Approaching the social media landscape is a little like trying to take a drink from a fire hose—like organizing chaos. We all see the strength of the tools, but we wonder how it all fits and how it will make a difference in our organizations. With this concept as a backdrop, here is how I interpret my crystal ball:

1. Social Media Will Become Less Social.

First of all, I’d like to revisit the term “social media.” There is something about this nomenclature that sounds almost trivial or lacking in substance. I’d like to coin a new term – “engagement media.” It’s more active and deliberate. David Armano said on his Harvard Business School blog recently, “With groups, lists, and niche networks becoming more popular, networks could begin to feel more ‘exclusive.’ Not everyone can fit on someone’s newly created Twitter list and as networks begin to fill with noise, it’s likely that user behavior such as ‘hiding’ the hyperactive ‘updaters’ that appear in your Facebook news feed may become more common. Perhaps it’s not actually less social, but it might seem that way as we all come to terms with getting value out of our networks—while filtering out the clutter.” And I think David is spot on here. We will be looking for more sophisticated, relevant experiences—greater value and ROE, return on engagement.

2. More Enterprise Social Software Platforms Will Emerge.

As an extension of the above development, major software providers, such as IBM, SAP, and Oracle will continue to innovate and launch enterprise-grade social networking and Web 2.0 collaboration applications/suites. Already, Oracle has Beehive; Microsoft enhanced SharePoint with social media functionality, and IBM offers Lotus Connections. Targeted niche solutions will emerge to address industry and stakeholder-specific needs. Currently, many organizations are piecing together solutions with blogs on TypePad/WordPress—or investing significant amounts of time and money in developing in-house communities using tools such as Ruby on Rails.

3. Social Media (“Engagement Media”) Fundraising Will Become More Integrated.

Organizations of all sizes will see the value of fully integrated multi-channel strategies. Using social media channels alone for fundraising will not be as effective as designing coordinated campaigns and communication strategies that include traditional fundraising techniques. This includes email, your website, Google ads, face-to-face events, and managed promotion to the online and mainstream media. Beth Kanter confirms this predication and gives a great example. Just last week, GiveMN, a new online web site that hopes to encourage more Minnesotans to give and help create a stronger nonprofit community for Minnesota, raised over $14 million dollars in 24 hours using a multi-channel campaign.

4. Relevance and Ease Will Become Increasingly Important in Peer-to-Peer Fundraising.

There is no more compelling spokesperson for an organization or school than a passionate supporter. This is the core strength of peer-to-peer fundraising. And there are a range of scenarios—from a class agent soliciting annual fund gifts for his or her school, to a stakeholder requesting donations in lieu of birthday presents or wedding gifts for an organization. In fact, Facebook Causes now offers a birthday wish feature, and we will likely see more peer-to-peer fundraising applications sprouting up in the coming months. In 2010, I suspect donors will demand more meaningful interaction—not so much with organizations, but with recipients and “the mission on the ground.” Epic Change’s TweetsGiving 2009 connects friends around the world with Mama Lucy Kamptoni, who used income from selling chickens to build an innovative school in her village’s community in Tanzania. Last year, TweetsGiving, raised $11,000—with a goal of$100,000 this year.

5. Email as We Know it Will Become Passé.

As Erik Qualman says in his popular Social Media Revolution video, GEN X and Y already view email as passé. And the trend will accelerate—or rather, morph technologically. The New York Times iPhone application recently added functionality which allows a user to easily share an article across networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Many websites already support this functionality, but this next iteration of sharing behavior will gradually replace email list communications—particularly through the exponential expansion of mobile phone adoption. And this will provide renewed opportunities for withering content purveyors, such as traditional newspapers and network television. So, stay tuned. Fasten your seat belt.

It’s likely to be a wild ride! What are your prognostications?

11 thoughts on “Organizing Chaos in 2010

  1. I’m still looking for a way to make the most from the “social” media available today. I feel sure email will remain a link in the chain of communication. Notice the requirement to list my email to reply to this blog.

  2. i like the idea of participation media as an alternative to social media. it’s very similar to engagement media but anything we can do to promote the idea of it being a verb and not a noun is progress. strong post.

  3. I like and agree with the first four. I disagree with 5. Email is still the main protocol of the Internet age. I *wish* it were different, but definitely not in 2010.

    Great post.

    1. Chris — Point well-taken. Love the controversial stuff. My Friday has been made receiving a comment from you. Thanks for stopping by. I’m looking forward to seeing you speak to the Dallas Social Media Club in January 2010. We’ll discuss this further then . . . .Elaine

  4. I think “less social” is better said as “smarter”. We all want more relevance. We will all search for increasingly better filters for better relevance. The reason why that is not necessarily less social is because those smarter filters are often people.

    How does email become passe, when the examples of technology you say will replace email (or partially supplant it) require email to work? Email will only become more important. It is a cornerstone of the web and social media in turn. It is going no where.

    It is important to note, high school students are rarely a good example of where technology is going. They are not running many businesses. Business drives the evolution of technology. And occasionally government or war.

    If you look at the metrics from any of the “add this” or “share this” sharing tools online, email sharing is by far the winner. This is hard to believe for most of us in the social media bubble, but for most online citizens, email is still king.

    Sharing may well begin to transition more from email to social sites, but email will still be quite a required corner for the web for quite sometime.comment through email.

  5. Trying to figure out how my Indian partners such as local development organisations might lever the opps of social media, reading the above – especially the remark of ‘taking a drink of a fire hose’ – it makes me rethink and wishing to first get a grip on things happening myself before I try to teach others .. thanks a lot

  6. Enjoyed your post on big Social Media trends. I have to agree with Chris Brogan and others on the email… I don’t see it going away soon… although Google Wave creates a nice “next generation” potential for email.

    I’m curious about best practices for filtering and noise reduction – as you discuss in #1. I’ve been using a combination of tools like Gist, Tweetdeck, Hootsuite and My Yahoo to aggregate. What are you and others finding helpful?


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