Reading that headline, you might think I’m about to tell you what the next big thing in social media is.
But I’m not. Because I can’t. Because I don’t know.
And if I knew, do you think I’d be sharing it on a blog, of all things? Blogging is dead, man. Wired told us so, way back in October 2008 (Twitter, Flickr, Facebook Make Blogs Look So 2004).
No, if I knew, I’d be tweeting it, or maybe flickring it, or facebooking it, or next-big-thinging it.
The funny thing about the next big thing, is that even the smartest people — the experts — have a pretty lousy track record when it comes to predicting what it will be. We’ve all seen those quotes from business leaders and inventors of the past who made bold predictions for their time that have since turned out to be so very wrong. Using our keen sense of hindsight, it’s easy to poke fun at those guys. But how good are we at trying to predict what technologies will stick? Two years ago, ReadWriteWeb‘s Emre Sokullu predicted that Joost would be all the rage by now. A little less than two years ago, RRW offered a top-10 list of future web trends for the decade of 2007-2017. And last month, Shel Holtz predicted in his podcast (podcast? really?) that AudioBoo could be the up-and-coming next big thing in social networking.
As a higher ed communicator who’s trying to find the right mix of media platforms to connect with diverse audiences and keep them informed about the goings on of one university, my head swirls when I think about the many avenues we’re using simply to accomplish two things:
- Connect with a broad range of audiences — from elementary school kids for summer camps to octogenarian and nonagenarian alumni; and
- Stay up to speed on the latest communications technologies in order to remain relevant to our constituents.
So when I think about the next big thing, I think about how we connect with our constituents. I think about how many of our alumni are using the mobile web, how many prospective students find our Facebook page useful, how many legislators actually see the news releases we email to them, whether anyone is paying attention to our university blogs anymore. I wonder about the time and money spent on traditional approaches — the quarterly alumni magazine, the printed admissions pieces, the save-the-date cards — and ponder whether moving more of these approaches toward a web-based platform would make sense, or whether simply adding a web-based or social media-based component to extend our reach, like tentacles of an octopus, is the right approach. And then I start thinking about the next big thing and wonder how much time and energy I should devote to investigating that.
What got my started on this post was blog fatigue. I don’t know if it has more to do with the time of year or a changing attitude toward blogging, but my interest in regular blogging seems to be on the wane lately. In my social media world, I tend to gravitate toward Twitter (where my network includes higher ed colleagues, online acquaintances in other fields of marketing and PR, some writers and musicians I follow, some students and alumni of Missouri S&T, and one sibling), then Facebook (where I connect with old high school friends and S&T students and alumni), and lastly, the higher ed and PR/marketing blogs that form the loose network that also, in the past two years, has spilled over into Twitter, and does so more and more these days.
If I had to rank my preference for social networks, I’d put Twitter first, with Facebook a distant second. Blogging (both the practice of creating posts and the act of reading others regularly) would come in dead last.
Maybe the guy at Wired is right. Maybe blogging is so 2004. Funny, then, that I didn’t create this one until 2005. Which further proves my point that I know absolutely nothing about the next big thing.
P.S. – I just created a Tumblr account. Maybe that’s the next big thing. For me, anyway.