Fast Company

8 Experts Predict How Web 2.0 Will Evolve In 2009

With the economy in a slump and budgets being cut in traditional print and TV advertising campaigns many will be looking to the Web 2.0 world to reach their constituents. So what should be on your Web 2.0 radar for 2009? Web 2.0 gurus give you the low down.

2008 was the year that Web 2.0 became more mainstream. More ad agencies, businesses, and non-profits used Web 2.0 tools as a way to build community and relationships, cross promote products and issues, and integrate their online and offline marketing strategies. Some like Zappos were extremely successful and nailed their Web 2.0 strategy while others like the makers of Motrin were burned by mommy bloggers for not doing proper research on their target audience.

With the economy in a slump and budgets being cut in traditional print and TV advertising campaigns many will be looking to the Web 2.0 world to reach their constituents. So what should be on your Web 2.0 radar for 2009? Web 2.0 gurus give you the low down.

Chris Brogan: New Marketing Labs
“2009 sees a few things: site mergers/acquisitions for some of the weaker social network platforms, and a stronger push towards identity portability and friend (social graph) portability. We love our social networks, but why should I suddenly develop amnesia when you and I join a new one? It should know we're friends and treat us accordingly.”

Chris Brogan's Website and Blog

Mary Hodder, Founder of Dabble.com and VP of Product Development, Apisphere

“The future of social media is user's owning their data, deciding who to send it to. Look for more companies that currently host the user's identity to have less control over that, as things like Open ID take over and more companies try to compete by giving users more control over themselves. Look for ways users can own their own data, and companies that might offer that, sort of like a personal information bank. The changes may seem subtle but I think we'll see companies now, like Facebook, who try to be everything to you: your bank account for info, your identity, your tools for publishing, and your bar/restaurant for socializing, having to give up some of those roles or hold them less powerfully. And I don't think it's natural for one company to hold all that power. It leaves you with very little control over your online self.

Of course, Facebook will fight this to the last, so they won't be the first to give up some of this control. Others will and eventually to compete Facebook will follow. But they are the great example of the problem.

The other big change will be in companies finally building for revenue in the social and any other space online, as they build for growth in their free or social products.”

Mary Hodder's Blog

Tara Hunt, Co-Founder Citizen Agency and Citizen Space
“Social Media will cease to be such an 'experimental' field in marketing and will start to become part of the main core of good campaigns. Web 2.0 is the participatory web - which means that the power of this time is that we are all producers. In former days of marketing, companies delivered messages and goods and customers were meant to consume them. Not so much any longer. Customers are major players in the arena of marketing - I would argue more so than the marketing professionals themselves now - so it is important to realize that and shift the marketing program to be more about how you interact and empower those customers rather than how you control and spread the message.”

Tara Hunt's Website
Tara Hunt's Blog


Charlene Li, Consultant and Blogger
“The biggest innovation will be the opening of social networks so that they can exchange profiles, social relationships, and applications. As such, companies need to think about how they will "open" up their businesses. For example, rather than create your own community, could you leverage a community that already exists on MySpace, Facebook, or LinkedIn?”

Charlene Li's Website and Blog

Susan Mernit, Co-Founder, People Software
“I see social media in 2009 becoming more and more accessible to mainstream audiences. Twitter, seesmic, YouTube and other tools we saw as playgrounds for the young have moved into the digerati toolbox and are migrating to the mainstream. This means that everyone will experience what bloggers and gamers learned at least 5 years ago--following people online is a great way to virtually know and screen potential contacts and friends, as well as a tool to maintain connections. As for tech, I'm excited about personal devices--smart phones, integrated devices--I want to see them come down in price and go into wider distribution so people don't need to rely so much on computers.”

Susan Mernit's Website
Susan Mernit's Blog

Rebecca Moore, Director of Outreach, Google Earth
“From a mapping perspective, you can expect to see much richer integration of "location-aware" services with a variety of devices. For example, mobile devices (such as those powered by Android) now commonly include GPS. Of course this can be used for applications like "find pizza places near me", but also can be used, for example, when a natural disaster hits. Imagine that local people on the ground will be able to easily map and share where bridges are out, roads are closed, or where emergency shelters and medical care are available. Keep in mind that in the developing world, people have far more phones than laptops.

In terms of social media, I think we are just at the beginning of "collaborative mapping" - people working together with friends and colleagues to build shared maps of places they care about. Also, the grassroots environmental organization Appalachian Voices has combined social networking and mapping in an interesting way on their advocacy site to end mountaintop-removal coal mining: here's a map of all the people referred to the site by actor/activist Woody Harrelson, including their "degree of separation" from Woody. We might be seeing more "social maps" like this in 2009.”

Rebecca Moore's Website

Nate Ritter: Entrepreneur and Web Developer
“The biggest changes have already started, but we'll see the tech take shape and make more money in 2009. They'll make money because they'll be forced to with the drying up of available VC and angel capital.

(1) Location based services will proliferate and become more useful to the end user.

(2) Aggregation services will change from just "drinking from the fire hose" to become very specific aggregation tools, perhaps with very specific use cases. The amount of data we can consume as humans stays limited, but filtering that data to become useful for specific reasons is not only something that's doable, it has an incentive... targeted customers. Those customers might be businesses or consumers, but the days of shooting from the hip with a shotgun approach are quickly ending. Shooting from the hip will stay, because it's fast, easy and cheap (and will get faster, easier, and cheaper) to build web applications. But being fast doesn't mean you're being smart.

I truly believe that 2009 is a huge opportunity. The bigger the threat, the bigger the opportunity.”

Nate Ritter's Website and Blog:

Richard Yoo, Founder of Hush Labs and former CEO of Rackspace Hosting
“I'm not sure that things will evolve the way people have seen in the
past. I predict that it'll mostly be about trying to figure out what users
really want and what they find most important then fine-tuning things based
on that feedback. The pace of evolution may really slow down by
comparison, but the user experience will be far better.

We'll also see a shakedown of Web 2.0 companies - some will survive,
but many will just shut down. The ones that survive will have figured
out a revenue model, or are simply critical to their user base's
day-to-day lives.”

Richard Yoo's Website:
Richard Yoo's Blog:

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Allyson Kapin is the Founding Partner of Rad Campaign and the Founder of Women Who Tech.

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11 Comments

  • Caroline Allison

    The next phase of Web 2.0 will be proving there's a business model behind social networks that is financially viable. People don't like being advertised to, which is in part, what social media is about....the soft sell, or "awareness creating." Yet traditionally, ads have paid for wonderful services and programs that we all enjoy. So its finding a balance that makes sense.

    As for user adoption -- people are trying to use general platforms for networking and for business, not fully aware of what the full capabilities are and how to use these to cultivate leads for business. Yes, there are savvy networkers and social media pros, but I'm really referring to the average person who joined a social network or two within the last year and they haven't fully "bought into" exactly why they're on a social network, questioning whether it is worth their time or a waste of time.

    In 2009, we'll see the rise of social networks around industries and traditional business models, where customers are looking for content, but led to a purchasing decision. To cut through the clutter of ads and marketing messages, we'll continue to rely on friends and our network's recommendations to help us streamline our decision making. What other people say about a company, product, or service will matter more going forward. And people will have more platforms to express, self-publish, etc. using social networks.

    Viscape - or Viscape.com - a social network for vacation homes - is an example of a company that is taking on an industry - vacation home travel. Traditionally, it has been very hard to find information quickly and easily. In addition, renters generally want to feel they can "trust" the person on the other side of the transaction. Viscape is about the "perfect search" and enabling people to have a "voice" with their experiences.

  • Paul Fox

    I followed a link from a "social media" site to this article. I work in B2B advertising where "social media" has been the buzz for two years now. Generally the B2B market is behind the curve of the mainstream market. I expected more forward thinking from this article. The question I always have when I hear this is how can a catering company make money from Twitter? This idea doesn't translate to all markets or clients. I recently had to raise concerns over an idea to create a facebook-like application for a catering company. No relevance. Web 2.0 is a platform on which social media was built in 2006. So what's next?

  • Allyson Kapin

    Thanks for the great comments. Would love to hear from more of you about how Web 2.0 will evolve in 2009.

  • Marie-Christien van Wensen

    I believe that in 2009 there is going to be a focus of what a social network can achieve. Read the blog of Jos http://pifblog.wordpress.com/2... in which he explains that a social network can also make a positive change. Striving together for good causes.

  • SERGI BOSCH

    I agree with Anne Dougherty (see comment) that there is a huge, untapped audience, e.g., "single women over 50 not looking for a mate". truly effective companies and their 3.0 media will reach those audiences.

  • Mark Cameron

    I agree with Nate Ritter. I think there is a huge amount of opportunities out there.

    There are a number of smaller social sites that need significant investment and strategic thinking to help them realise their full potential and make a profit. The problem with this is that venture capital is vanishing.

    As a design and marketing company we have been investing our time and knowledge for an equity stake in these type of companies, making them a far more attractive proposition for nervous investors.

    With the correct incentives 2.0 companies can still get to where they need to be. The owners of these companies need to think creatively about the possibilities open to them before they decide to "call it a day".

  • Anne Dougherty

    We're definitely at a tipping point with Web 2.0 companies (whatever you take web 2.0 to mean). We've seen a glut of social networking tools and sites yet there are huge communities that are still under served - social networking for seniors? for single women over 50 not looking for a mate? for childless couples in their 30s and 40s? - and I think in order for web 2.0 to remain viable those communities will need to be tapped.

    As well, aggregation is going to have to get more specific and controllable for content producers at all levels. RSS just isn't cutting it for content delivery but who wants to be subject to the whims of the DiggNation to try to find content that interests? I think we're going to see a simultaneous shift toward users controlling their data - portability across networks - more user generated content, better aggregation, but also more throttling of the "crowd mentality" that ends up promoting things like Two Girls, One Cup.

  • Jim Anderson

    Nate Ritter said it best - "The bigger the threat, the bigger the opportunity." It's my guess that the down economy is going to be the perfect opportunity for those firms and individuals who have their sails wide open when the winds of an upturn start blowing.

    Everyone had great comments, but nobody mentioned health care. I'm thinking that with a new administration, 2009 is when your health care providers are going to meet the Net in a big way. We'll just have to see what happens then!

    - Dr. Jim Anderson
    The Accidental IT Leader Blog
    "Learn What Management Skills You Will Need To Make It To The Next Level In Your Career"