By Jessica Tsai
The distinction between traditional and innovative marketing will become significantly more pronounced as the socially driven online communities continue to gain momentum, according to a Forrester Research report released today. "The Future of the Social Web," by Jeremiah Owyang, a Forrester senior analyst, examines the monumental changes that have shaped -- and will continue to impact -- how consumers engage with each other. That engagement, Owyang writes, will affect the way each company reaches its customers -- and more important, their influencers.
"The community will take charge," Owyang tells CRM magazine in a one-on-one interview, "and that's going to happen whether or not marketers or brands participate." Social networking, he adds, will only continue to facilitate the power shift toward the consumer.
The report breaks down the past, present, and future state of the social Web into five overlapping eras:
- The era of social relationships: Beginning in the mid-1990s, people signed up for online profiles and connected with their friends to share information.
- The era of social functionality: As it exists today, social networking is more than just a platform for "friending," but one that can support a broader array of what Owyang calls "social interactive applications." However, identities are essentially disconnected silos within individual sites.
- The era of social colonization: By late 2009, technologies such as OpenID and Facebook Connect will begin to break down the barriers of social networks and allow individuals to integrate their social connections as part of their online experience, blurring the lines between networks and traditional sites.
- The era of social context: In 2010, sites will begin to recognize personal identities and social relationships to deliver customized online experiences. Social networks will become the "base of operation for everyone's online experiences."
- The era of social commerce: In approximately two years, social networks will be more powerful than corporate Web sites and CRM systems, as individual identities and relationships are built on this platform. Brands will serve community interests and grow based on community advocacy as users continue to drive innovation in this direction.