Sunday, 11 January 2009


Here are some ‘social media’ predictions for 2009, just for fun. Why social media? Well, my first prediction is that we’re going to see a lot more fuss about ‘social media’ here in the Middle East in 2009. And the trick there will be sorting the wheat from the chaff – because you’re about to see a load of ‘experts’ talking with great authority on the subject. And, as usual, the expertise on offer will all too frequently be scant. I recently had an advertising agency offer to ‘infiltrate the forums’ on behalf of a client, for instance. That to me is a signal of quite how bad it’s going to get before we settle down and work out who are the practitioners delivering new and insightful programmes using the social media tools that are revolutionising communications practice elsewhere in the world.

So I think we’re probably going to see one or two high profile social media gaffes in our region, quite a lot of weighty pronouncements and agencies rushing to show how they can package their ‘unique insight’ into the social media paradigm for clients. This is what my very good friend Gianni Catalfamo, the uber-geek and European Web 2.0 guru, calls 2.0Wash. Like Greenwash that preceded it, 2.0Wash is when every programme contains a blog, just because, well, they should all contain a blog these days...

In the meantime, I think we’ll see an increasing pressure on regional telcos to stop blocking these social media networks – orkut, flikr and other important components of the ‘Web 2.0’ mix remain blocked. These blocks continue to contribute to retarding our region’s use of some of the most powerful communication tools to emerge since Thomas Caxton started thinking about Ps and Qs.

My final social media prediction for 2009 is that we’ll start to realise quite how powerful the grassroots movement towards using these tools can be. It’s already happened in other world markets and it’s late arriving here precisely because of the blocks. But more people in the Middle East are using FaceBook than read any single newspaper. More people in the UAE are using FaceBook than read any single newspaper. And FaceBook is only one of many, many social media platforms...

This piece originally appeared as one of the chucklesomely named 'A Moment with McNabb' columns in Campaign Middle East magazine.

1 comment:

Tim Burrowes - mumbrella said...

I get a sense that there are two tipping points happening simultaneously.

The people who are behind the early adopters but ahead of the mainstream (I bet there’s a really good word for them) are just beginning to take to Twitter, in the same way that Facebook suddenly took off about 15 months ago.

And people who dipped their toes in the water with blogs, then went away are coming back. It feels like there’s a second wave.

All that means that (cliche as it is to say it) I think 2009 is the year social media will become a mainstream marketing tool.


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