081219 2009 Forecasts

On December 19, 2008, in All, Futures, John Sumser, JohnSumser.com, by John Sumser

Note: This is a revised and edited version of “Digging Into RecruitingBlogs.com v1.30

(Dec 19, 2008) As the year winds down, prognosticators all over the world run their greedy little hands together. Now is the time for impressive feats of crystal ball gazing and hearty forecasting. Since no one has been speculating about the future of RBC, it seems like a good time and place to get the ball rolling.

I’m going to give you ten predictions about social media, Recruiting and RBC. I encourage you to disagree or forecast some of your own weather. I’m reminded of an old saying, “The best way to predict the future is to make it.”

Like life, these predictions are contradictory.

  1. The Economic Climate
    January’s news will make this fall look like the good old days. Companies who were too kind to do a holiday season layoff will clean house by mid month. By the inauguration, newspapers will be selling at record breaking levels. Then someone will notice that the only place where the news is really bad is in the media. Lots of recruiters will get dislocated next year (but that’s because of the changes in recruiting, not the economy.)

    In 2009, the downturn will continue to be uneven, with deeper impact some places and shallower others. The panic will be worse than the reality.
     

  2. How Many Friends?
    The tension between exclusivity and popularity will increase for high volume networkers like Recruiters, Politicians and Salespeople. More and more often you will hear stories of people who stop networking in their private lives. Keeping the personal and the professional distinct will be understood as a virtue. (Sadly, I won’t be very good at this new trend).

    There will be lots of advice about “How Many Friends To Have” in 2009.
     

  3. The Network Is Mine
    These days, the basic notion is that the network is ours. We are the community. Ownership of the community comes in two flavors, formal and informal. Formal ownership involves the ability to terminate or transform the community from a structural standpoint. The informal ownership are the people who make the community lively and active. At RBC, the two overlap pretty well.If  you look around, economic stress is causing some very generous people to start extracting their pound of flesh from the community. As the example gets set, people will come to understand the community as a series of overlapping entities. Each of us are at the center of our own universes. Ultimately, the shift from “we” to “I” will hurt the sense of community.

    The 2009 question is “Will economic desperation of community minded generosity prevail?”
     

  4. I Own My Own Network
    It’s easy to imagine everyone having their own Ning account (or equivalent). It makes some sense to consider an organization that is contribution based. Those who contribute more get more back. By building gated Ning communities, we could each control the flow of value from our own networks to RBC and vice versa. Each of us will own our own toll road into the community.

    In 2009, online communities will look closely at the value they return to their users. Users (customers, remember) will be doing the same thing.
     

  5. People Will Go Rafting In The Information River
    Although Twitter is flawed, the phenomenon is not going away. Community-centric activities will decline as members try to deal with info flows from the 1,000 people they follow. Ultimately, the survivors will flourish by cruising the waves of information.Very strong social connections can be quickly leveraged using Tweets. What once took a week of dinners and conversation can be accomplished with search and 140 character interactions. The short-burst medium will replace a variety of things while being none of them.

    In 2009, we will start hearing about new kinds of insight that come from deep immersion in the information river.
     

  6. Defriending
    I have thousands of connections on LinkedIn. That makes it my own personal resume database. It also makes it unlikely that I will build warm relationships there. The places where I have really strong relationships will involve prioritization. So, you can expect to see a movement towards network exclusivity, particularly in the over 40 crowd.

    In 2009, systems will emerge that allow you to score and evaluate the relationships in your networks.
     

  7. Email Dies Quickly, Traffic Falls Off, Aggregators Rule
    No one can really keep track of all of this crap. FriendFeed, which does an admirable job of aggregating the river, will start to look more and more like Outlook. You have to be able to take the information out of reverse chronological order if you want to do something with it. Once the short communique (tweet) flaws in accountability and distribution are fixed, Email will be on its last legs. Mine already is.

    In 2009, someone other than Microsoft will introduce an Outlook-like interface for the Information River.
     

  8. All Social Media Business Models Fail Because They Involve The Use Of Relics
    We simply don’t know how to think about this stuff yet. Inevitably, we wrap old ideas around our new experiences. Advertising is on its last legs. The most perfectly customized ad is the precise information I need. So, every aspect of mass distribution will be wrenched from the advertiser’s hands. It’s going to take a little while for a groundbreaking communities to figure out how it pays for itself.

    A new form of intimate marketing will start to take shape in 2009. Things that smack of DirectMarketing will lose while connection will win.
     

  9. The New Definition Of Friendship Starts To Emerge
    Lots of people are talking about the lack of nuance in the space between contact and friend. I think there is even more variance in the idea of “types of friends”. You can jump start a strong relationship quickly with social media. There is no name for that. In the long haul, this is all about how we spend our attention. With a relatively finite quantity of attention to spend, prioritization will continuously try to be the issue.

    During 2009, a consensus about kinds of friendship will emerge. The stuff that emerges from the marketing community won’t cut it. (See “Winners and Losers In A Troubled Economy“)
     

  10. The Generation Gap Will Continue To Widen
    The distance between a Millennial and a Baby-Boomer is enormous. The friction associated with economic conditions will add insult to injury. Expect to see people noticing how foolish old people look when they try to act like young people.

    The polarization between the generations will come to center stage in 2009.
     

So, those are my ten. What do you think the next year will hold??



 
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