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2010: Year of Trust Agents? Twitter Decline? What Else?

Posted on : 30-12-2009 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Brands, Business, Customer Service, Social Media


Many of you do not know, but this year I started to write a book titled “A Social Media Fairy Tale.”  Of course I have not been back to writing for a number of months now, but that is because it is much harder than I ever thought, plus it is very weird to write about yourself.  The reason for the book is hopefully to help people learn about social media, and different ways to use the space.  I started in social media in 2000 with sharing my daughter Gia’s website when she was born prematurely.  I then used the website to educate people about Cystic Fibrosis, something Gia was diagnosed with early in life.  When she started her fight with cancer, we used the website to educate and follow her progress.  When Lily was born I added our family website, which Robyn joined in 2008.

I have always been an advocate for Customers, and I continued to do that when I joined Comcast in September, 2007.  I have always done this in a private manner and I planned the same at Comcast.  I never anticipated being in a public role that would not only change Comcast, but also change the way many companies think of social media and Customer Service.  If I would have made predictions at the end of 2008, I would have stated we would see many new companies enter social media, and service would be a key role.  We did see this, but not as much as I thought would happen.  I would have also predicted that I would have not been as public but my team would continue to see success.  This would not have been as accurate, since I have spoken at many events and continue to strive to change Customer Service, not only at Comcast but throughout the industry.  2009 had an amazing start with the Business Week story “Comcast Twitter Man.”  This is an article I am very proud of, but the highlights to me for 2009 were:

  1. The opportunity to continue to have conversations with Customers within social media and in person
  2. Success for my team as they have really taken the reigns within social media
  3. Brian Roberts, CEO of Comcast stating that Twitter has changed the culture of Comcast
  4. Watching competitors trying to replicate the success my team has had in social media
  5. Completing a leadership program at Comcast in which only 45 people (out of close to 100,000 employees) are chosen for each year
  6. Finally taking a vacation with the family, even if it turned into the Griswold Disney Vacation

So now we look forward to 2010.  As we have seen every year, predictions for the year ahead are everywhere, and I will try the same.  I can guarantee that I have zero psychic abilities.  In fact I have no predictions regarding my life, but that is simply because I am not sure I could have predicted any events over the past 10 years.  I just hope 2010 is another good year for family and friends.  So here is what I see in 2010:

  • Customer Service – As the economy starts to improve, companies will strive to improve the experience for Customers.  The cost benefit will be retaining Customers.  The poor economy has taught companies that it is far cheaper to get it right the first time.  You will start to see Customer Service being the new marketing!
  • Economy – The economy will continue to improve over the first half of 2010, but the second half improvements will slow and may even take a few steps back.  This will be due to employee turn over that will impact production, as well as steps taken to help improve the economy will be pulled back and this will show the improvements are fragile, and the strain will cause some to break.  One of the factors will be yet another bubble bursting, specifically gold which will scare many.
  • Employees and Jobs – Hiring will start to pick up in the next 6 months.  This will cause pain for many companies where employees did not feel valued during this downturn.  Instead of hiring out of work people, there will be many that move from one company to another.  Like service, not every company has seen the asset that employees really are.  The employees will return this favor by leaving which will cause production decreases, increased labor costs and ultimately the trouble in the economy for the second half of the year.  There is a good note!  This will show companies the cost benefit of striving to be more employee centric.  I actually believe it may be the beginning stage of long term employment with companies and a new team environment that will lead businesses for a long time to come.
  • Social Media – I think video will continue to rise.  People will grow a little bit tired of Facebook but they will still use the space as a primary connection to friends and family.  I believe Twitter will see activity take a steady decline over the first 6 months.  In my opinion this is due to the amount of spam, which is causing frustration to users and the benefits early adopters saw, are not easily noted by new users.  Twitter will finally work to make changes, but I predict it will be later half of the year before dramatic change.  Unfortunately if it takes that long, many of the users will have already left.  This will have added importance as the company looks for more funding, but due to the declines there will be a reluctance, causing the need to sell Twitter to a third party (maybe a Google, or someone like that).  Any sale will not be at dollar amounts seen in the past for similar transactions.  This will cause business fundamentals, and profits to be important for future venture capital funding.  Unlike Twitter, Facebook will have success by going public, but the stock market returns may not be as exciting as people think.  The big news for social media will be the spread within the workplace and the support business leaders provide this initiative.
  • The Year of Trust Agents – We started to see Trust Agents, especially via Twitter but the coming year will be the year of the Trust Agent.  This may surprise you, but I predict this will not be on Twitter or even Facebook, at least at first.  Trust Agents will rise inside businesses as new social media tools are implemented.  This will also be a surprise to business leaders, and it will put a new face on the corporate leader.  Later in the year they will spread from these internal social networks to be in places like Facebook.

Overall I think 2010 will be better than 2009, mainly due to the light at the end of the tunnel for economy and there will be less strain between employers and employees.  Social media will continue to grow, but at a much slower pace.  The biggest growth will be within internal networks, but that will help people learn to use the space in a more effective manner.  One final prediction:  I still will not finish the book!

Isn’t it fun to pull things out of a hat and talk like they will be reality?  Anyway, thank you again for a great 2009, and I want to wish all of you a happy New Year!  I hope that 2010 brings great success personally and in your business life!