(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.
- 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.)
- How Many Friends?
The tension between exclusivity and popularity will increase for high volume networkers like Recruiters. 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- People Will Go Rafting In The Information River
Although Twitter is flawed, the phenomenon is not going away. RBC 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 leveraged using Tweets.
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.
- 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.
- All 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 whle for a groundbreaking community like ours to figure out how it pays for itself.
- 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.
- Slouching Will Be Ruled Unconstitutional in Two North American Countries
Obviously, this is the most important trend. It's related to the legislation requiring mandatory jail time for 50 year old white men who make gang signs. Recruiters seen in black stocking caps (uh, how come I never got one?) will have 30% shaved off their fees. The next RBC fashion trend? Suits and paisley ties.
So, those are my ten. What do you think the next year will hold for the business, social media or RBC?