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Niche networks, the ability to contest corporate claims and even pit yourself against Bollywood will make you a hero.

india Updated: Dec 25, 2010 17:01 IST
Hindustan Times

Niche networks, the ability to contest corporate claims and even pit yourself against Bollywood will make you a hero.

Simarprit Singh
CEO, Compare Infobase Ltd

Predicting trends in social media is only as good as predicting tomorrow’s weather. I perfectly understand that I can’t expect caviar for predicting that 2011 will be exciting for social media participants, watchers, enthusiasts and geeks like yours truly. Because some predictions are easy. MySpace promises to remain vacant and newborns will create Facebook accounts. Groupon, having made news with its famous $6 billion rebuff to Google, will make a bid at becoming the ultimate social network for the ‘save money’ brigade. So to write something unique is a challenge. Still, I’ll try.

Carving a niche
Niche networks will grow. These are networks within networks, where groups of like-minded people connect. Recently, some ‘super rich-only’ networks have claimed to bring very high net worth individuals and their indulgences together. Similarly, networks lending their voice both for and against gay rights will strengthen in 2011. Parent-teacher networks for various states and nations and networks for people with special needs are also claiming serious membership numbers.

We can expect niche social media networks for every age group between 3-80 years, for every nationality, race and professional interest. Some of these may be extensions of groups like Google-groups and Yahoo-groups which flourished in the past. Some may be mint fresh, but they all promise to be exciting.

All in the hand
Tech gurus are unanimous in predicting a tsunami of handheld devices apps in 2011. They believe, and so do I, that for every millimeter difference in the screen-size of the handheld device, there will be over 100 social media applications to choose from. Applications are going to be cross-platform. We can expect social media groups to be predominantly accessed from hand-held devices and to be geared more towards sharing images and videos.

As the resolution of cameras in handheld devices starts to cross the 10 mega pixel barrier and video quality becomes true HD, the desire to share marries the means to do that. We can expect new applications and also extremely powerful but lighter versions of FB, Twitter, Tumblr and Posterous to dominate 2011.

Lights, camera, click!
Bollywood will get a run for its money. India has talent and social media networks that are focused on producers and viewers of short amateur films. That talent could reach out at low cost. Will such parallel cinema make it big in 2011? We can’t say, but you’ll see stirrings in that direction.

Lowest bidder wins
This year, major retailers in the US made a noise about their ‘door buster’ bargains – and a few social media applications challenged this. In 2011, retailers will face the reality of their claims from challenges by networks focused on group purchasers or low cost purchasers. A sizeable number of people will crosscheck retailers’ claims of lowest prices through applications on their handheld devices.

Buyer’s choice
Social commerce is becoming a big buzz word. It’s been around since eBay went online, but it was very informal back then, without a name attached to it, and today it is very formal and people are conscious of the influence of social media in their buying decisions. We can expect social commerce to become really big this year.

Gamers’ paradise
There is a possibility of some website declaring an Olympics for social media games enthusiasts, and millions of people will participate in them, changing the way games have been played in this world. It is just an idea that needs to be formalised.

Aim and share
Dedicated photo-sharing sites are going to have a ball of a time with better cameras, better bandwidth, and 3G, 4G (whatever G) coming in. The ecosystem for photo-sharing sites is available. The mindset of people to share their personal photographs with a closed group, or even the world at large, is just right. Growth in photo-sharing sites may lead social media to its next level. Now, how about my caviar?

Wacky Trends
Men will realise that hot women can’t be found on social networks. They will continue asking for friendship anyway because inflatable dolls are expensive.

Twitter users will realise that numbers of followers does not equal respect. This will be proved when less than 10 people watch Uday Chopra’s latest film though he has over 1 lakh followers.

Facebook users will realise that it’s not cool to ‘Like’ a status message about someone’s death.

Lalit Modi will use Youtube to give post-match analyses of every IPL game. He will then get punched by Navjot Sidhu for stealing his job.

Shahid Kapur will finally spell a sentence correctly on Twitter.

The Ministry of Health will ban 4Square, mistaking the service for a cigarette brand.

Facebook’s chat feature will be shut after people realise their friend lists are full of people they don’t like talking to anyway.

Rajnikant and Kalmadi jokes will get a new lease of life as more and more middle-class Indians join Orkut and copy paste their SMSs.

Mumbaikars will learn that a MySpace account is the only space they can afford.

Blogging in India will die after people realise that Amitabh Bachchan’s blog was actually being written by an out-of-work Jugal Hansraj.

Saffola will tie up with Facebook and have their logo next to every status update or comment stating “OMIGOD! I heart you!”

— Gursimran Khamba

From HT Brunch, December 26

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First Published: Dec 25, 2010 15:53 IST