Research Status: The Future of the Social Web, Social Media In A Recession

I’ve been laboring over the last few weeks on my latest report, the future of the social web. It’s been very difficult to boil down interviews with the world’s top minds on the social web. I’ve interviewed folks from: Google, MySpace, OpendID Foundation, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Lotus, RWW, Federated Media, Plaxo, Dell, Cisco EOS, Flock, Meebo, Gigya, Intel, Razorfish, Six Apart and others. I’ve over 25 pages of raw notes, all representing their different corporate strategy and a mixture of opinions. I’ll admit, it wasn’t easy to find the pattern.

When I need to do heavy problem solving, and find those patterns, I disconnect. So I did.

I went offline on Monday, I drove to one of my favorite remote locations on the Pacific coast where there is no wifi, no powerplugs, no cubicles, few people, and tried to decipher all of the viewpoints. I worked from my car, talked outloud, went for walks, ran on the beach with @goodboyrumba in tow until I was able to figure out what I needed to do. I finished my last interviews with Adam Nash of LinkedIn, Angela who runs marketing at MySpace, and the brilliant Chris Messina who works on the Open ID foundation. Somewhere inbetween finishing my last interviews and my third jog, it started to gel.

I have to thank Josh Bernoff who took my calls during the day, and let me bounce ideas off him, he’d give me a requirements that I needed to hit. It’s become clear that there are at least 5 eras of the social web and we’re entering the second one now, and will soon enter at least 2 of them perhaps by the end of this year. I blog about some of the concepts and theories as I know that friending will someday go away, and when CRM systems connect to social networks registrations pages will be extinct. It feels good to finally be able to document the framework –now to spelling it out what it means to consumers, social networks, and brands.

Another report that we’ve been working on, Tom Cummings and Josh Bernoff worked with me in a collaborative function is a very timely report that will showcase the findings from a recent survey among marketers. We found that a majority of marketers that we surveyed will increase their spend on social media marketing –even in the face of a recession. This is tremendous news for the social media space as it’s one of the few markets in the world that are increasing (that aside from human vices).

In a few hours, I’m boarding a plane and headed to Austin to meet some clients, then I’ll be at the SXSW conference for the interactive session along with thousands of others in the social media space. I’m not sure which events I’ll be headed to, there’s at least 4-6 parties every night, and dozens of sessions I want to attend each day. On Sunday at 10am, I’ll be on the mainstage (room A) that if I remember can fit a few thousands and we’ll be debating spec work (crowdsourcing design), I know it’s a fiery topic, but I’m going to take the stand that: It’s happening, so you designers and buyers better figure out how it works, or get out of the way. Update: our panelist is wired magazine, read their blog post. I’m avoiding scheduling any meetings at SXSW, instead, I just want to go with the flow, so I hope to meet you at SXSW, one way to track where I’ll be is by following my tweets. I’ll be very slow in responding to emails till the end of SXSW.

  • http://www.pieheadproductions.com bob sheesley

    Great take on the state of the Social Union!

  • http://www.askjamesholmes.com James Holmes

    Jeremiah – There is a vast range of experience, expertise and skill sets among those engaged in social media. While some scramble to get connected, get up to speed and figure out how to make these communities work; others provide the deep thinking, visions, guidance, and a look into the future. I appreciate your amazing work and leadership in consideration of the next frontier.

    I am looking forward to the fruits of your labor and gaining better understanding of where we are heading from some of the brightest minds in the collective social media community.

    Enjoy SXSW – it should be amazing this year!

    James
    http://Twitter.com/AskJamesHolmes

  • http://phildearson.com Phil Dearson

    Sounds delightful. Any idea when we can expect to get our filthy hands on it?

  • http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/ jeremiah_owyang

    Phil, it depends on how quickly I can turn it around and get it to the editing team. A few weeks at least

  • http://www.wirestone.com scott doniger

    jeremiah, kudos for creating the mental space to think; those of us who try know how hard it is to actually do. intrigued by the framework of being at stage 2 of 5, it’s nice to be an adolescent again!

  • http://www.twitter.com/davidhargreaves david hargreaves

    oops. Apologises for the previous comment I hit send by accident.

    I love the idea of CRM systems connecting with the social web removing need for registration pages. Just imagine if your social web profile could hold your bank details and be authenticated – we could then have the universal shopping cart with no more passwords. Maybe I am dreaming?

    very exciting only to be on stage 2!

  • http://www.blog.ac-company.co.uk Ugochukwo Obi

    “It’s become clear that there are at least 5 eras of the social web and we’re entering the second one now, and will soon enter at least 2 of them perhaps by the end of this year.”

    I am curious!

  • http://www.TheSocialMediaBible.com Steven Groves

    Excellent vision on the future of social media. The five eras will play themselves out in some manner that helps us connect to one another. Thanks for applying your brainpower to it.

  • http://stefanomaggi.blogspot.com Stefano Maggi

    Can’t wait for you to share the findings.

    Keep on being inspired!

  • http://www.twitter.com/richgaasenbeek Rich Gaasenbeek

    Jeremiah, what’s your view on the intersection of social media with real business workflow applications? Thus far, the social web seems to exist in most companies independant of the business applications that enable work getting done in organizations. We believe that the business value of the social media increases dramatically when it’s tightly integrated with business the business apps. Curious as to your thoughts on this…

  • http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/ jeremiah_owyang

    Rich, good question, here’s a related post:

    http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2008/08/26/community-platforms-here-comes-the-cio/

    The CIO is being forced to evaluate the disparate social software systems due to the downturn.

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  • Itsdarkinhere

    Why are all the US-based social networking subject matter experts disappearing up their own backsides?

    I think there are way too many conferences on your US circuit where a small audience ends up making you feel like a god.

    In the past few months I’ve noticed the tone of Jeremiah and people like Chris Messina move from informative to godly.

    openID is kinda cool but it’s not curing world hunger, nor is it going to ensure I don’t lose my job in the current economic crisis. Therefore, it’s not really THAT important is it? Well, not enough for you to big nob yourself into thinking you’re better than someone who created Viagra! ;)

    Give me a break people. You haven’t cured cancer..unless Twittering does that. Then again, I read somewhere last week that social networking causes cancer, so maybe it’s time to tune out.

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