In 5-10 Years 'Social Networks Will Be Like Air'

March 04 2008 / by Alvis Brigis
Category: The Web   Year: 2008   Rating: 5

According to Charlene Li , VP and Pricipal Analyst at Forrester , “In 5-10 years social networks will be like air.”

Presenting yesterday as the Day One keynote speaker yesterday at O’Reilly’s Graphing Social Patterns conference, Li laid out a future in which “social context for activities” is so important, and the supporting tools so pervasive and powerful, that turning off such devices leaves one “gasping for air.”

Li predicted that in this future “relationship mapping will be automatic and permission-based”, which would require the evolution of online applications that can easily and securely manage access to one’s identity and corresponding “social graph”. And a whole lot of corresponding consumer trust.

Li said she expects users will be driven to participate due to the tremendous value the derive from the real-time access to structured information embedded in their social networks. This would allow people to quickly make decisions based on the the opinions of qualified members of their various networks.

In other words, if you’re in a video rental store (which probably won’t exist in 2013) looking for a good comedy, you could access the preferences of friends who share a common sense of humor. If you’re betting on a much smarter web in 5 years, the possible efficiencies are endless.

What’s the underlying business model? Li argued that “marketers will pay to reach and influence valuable high-influence individuals” and that “each person will have their own ‘CPM.’”

Li went on to rather logically estimate that social networks, which she sees dominated by the same old big corporations, “will compete to have the best experience for high-influence individuals.”

In her conclusion, she suggested that businesses should focus on more open experiences that give users more freedom and that new business models should “reflect the value created by people’s social networks.”

Based on my intuition and what I regularly read on leading-edge web media blogs like Read/Write Web, Tech Crunch and Mashable it seems like most of Li’s projections are highly likely to come true. It would have been nice to see her push the envelope a bit further, but hey, it’s still a very decent roadmap that should serve us well for 5 year range.

I can readily see that individuals will soon have so many personal web pages that a personal CPM is inevitable. But I’m not sure I agree the business focus will solely target the high-influence individuals. Why not pay lower-influence individuals lower rates and spread the bets?

Be sure to check out Li’s presentation slides here

(via Read/Write Web)

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