Living in the technology hub of America gives you adifferent perspective on all things digital.  Some of the most innovativecompanies from around the world call Silicon Valley home, so it’s safe toassume you’ll bump into well-known executives while you’re here.


One of my most recent encounters was experienced whileattending the Social Media Club’s(San Francisco chapter) recent event, Stories From the Frontline: Building aSocial Media Business.  Held at the TiE Conference Center in Santa Claraand sponsored by Cisco, the panel featured CEO of Yelp, Jeremy Stoppelman (@jeremys);Senior Analyst at Forrester Research, Augie Ray (@augieray);Managing Director of New Media at Paladin Advisors Group, Louis Gray (@louisgray);Partner at Mayfield Fund, Emily Melton (@emelton); Senior VP of Marketing at Visible Technologies,Blake Cahill (@bcahill); and moderator Ben Parr (@benparr), co-editor ofMashable. 


As a collective group, the panelists agreed on varioustopics surrounding how social media has impacted businesses. Companies arestill apprehensive to embrace new media for fear of eliminating the middle man,real-time needs and the industry’s seemingly early adoption stage.  Thatsaid, it’s undeniable that the need is there. Gray of Paladin Advisors Groupexplained, if you’re not interested in social media, you’re not interested ingrowing your business revenue.


In reference to social media standards and measurement, atopic of discussion and uncertainty for some time now, none of the panelistshad a definitive answer for what’s to come or best practice to offer. Here are a few key takeaways:

  • Cahill at Visible Technologies says the key toestablishing a measurement standard is to make social media an extension ratherthan using it as a silo technology.
  • All panelists believe conversation sentiment isone of the most important measurements a business can evaluate.


Interestingly, the panelists also agreed that social mediawill be the norm in five years and embracing new strategies will be the key toa successful strategy. Instead of the typical business model where newconcepts take years to develop, social media is on a short-term cycle with newtools being offered every six months. 


Parr from Mashable rounded out the discussion byspecifically asking the million dollar question, what’s the next big thing tocome in social media for 2010?  Here are a few concepts that the panelistsagreed upon:

  • Augmented reality and geo-location are key. It’s a new technology now, but it will transition from “cool” to the norm inthe next two years.
  • Discovery is a huge area for improvement. Reshaping traffic and sorting through the noise are things both consumers andbusinesses desperately need.
  • Actionable Q&A sources are an area ofopportunity.  Search engines are becoming a thing of the past because theyaren’t able to sort the way we need them to.


These are all valuable points and reasonablepredictions.  It’s likely that social media, as we know it, isexperiencing its peak.  As such, what’s coming next in digital is justaround the corner.  Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube could beoutdated in as little as six months.  It’s an exciting time for businessesto watch and listen in order to jump in as early adopters.  I, for one, aminterested to see if these executive predictions come true.


— Heather Arft