Yesterday the Orange County Register published 13 surprises to hit social media in 2010. This is an interesting list and, although I do not necessarily agree with all those “surprises”, some raise intriguing questions for government agencies that are struggling with their own social media strategies.
Let me pick a few:
At least one of the dominant tools for social networking will wind down and decline and people will leave it nearly as quickly as they joined it. I have no idea which one it will be, but not even Facebook or Twitter is immune from the possibility. The viral effect works in both directions.” — Jim McCarthy, Goldstar
I have been telling clients for quite some time that they should not commit to one particular social media platform, but continuously monitor those that are relevant to whatever objective they want to achieve, be it open government or constituent engagement or employee empowerment or a combination thereof. Even mainstream media are vulnerable to the “reverse viral effect”(I love this definition).
“Many social network sites starting to charge for memberships for more quality control due to the amount of spam we saw in 2009.” – Mirna Bard, NuReach Global
Most of the discussions about using social media to connect with constituents are based on that media being free of charge. What if some start charging? Would government have issues in choosing some of them as they would be seen as either favoring some players or creating a new breed of digital divide?
“Integration between platforms. Things like ping.fm, Google Wave and other utilities out there centralizing the interface and use between Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Plaxo and all the others.” – Chip Ahlswede, RegalStrategies.com
Some of the enterprise collaboration platforms are moving toward building bridges with consumer social software tools. However, if new consumer tools end up playing the same role, making the business case for an enterprise tool (besides the usual security considerations) may become even more difficult than it is today. Employees won’t only choose their preferred social media sites, but also their integration tools.
“Measuring the return on investment on social media efforts will become the norm in 2010. This will mean some companies will not be able to justify their current efforts. – Jim Marks, Virtual Results
I doubt this will be the case in government, unless in areas where the business case for internal collaboration is already quite clear or where the purpose for external engagement has already been determined to be compelling. In most cases the problem will remain the same as it was in 2009: government organizations need to learn how to engage with their constituents on their constituents’ turf. Therefore the norm will be to allow employees to look for relevant online communities, to pilot different ways to engage with those, and to establish government-controlled communities only where they can clearly add value to a well-understood target audience will be the norm.
“Growing number of things which aren’t strictly people on your buddy lists. Suddenly I think we will see people friending their laundromat to see when machines are available, the roads they use to watch traffic, and groups of their friends at once. The latter will be interesting because you will only see updates when all of your friends agree.” – Don Patterson, quub.com
This is a glimpse of what I mean by “government 3.0”. Web-enabled consumer devices of all sorts that communicate with us but also with infrastructures that governments run or supervise will create a completely new meaning for terms like “social” and “engagement”. Just I doubt this will be mainstream in 2010 or even in 2011. But it is definitely a development to watch.