I’m sure you’ve read all of the social media predictions for 2009 by now.

Most notable, and heavily linked is Peter Kim’s list.

While online communities play a major role in the social media sphere and were likely top of mind at the time of the predictions on Peter’s list, I maintain that small, niche communities are somewhat in a class by themselves and therefore deserve their own separate list of predictions.
With this in mind, I posed the following question to three community thought-leaders whom I respect a great deal.

How will online communities evolve in 2009? Here are their thoughts:

Martin Reed, author of Community Spark & creator of Female Forum

“I think online communities will become even more subject specific and niche focused in 2009. People will increasingly realise that trying to compete with the ‘one size fits all’ social networks like Facebook and MySpace is a bad strategy. People want to connect with others that share their passions and interests – the large, generic social networks aren’t good at that. The smaller, close-knit, subject specific online communities are (or at least, can be), and for that reason they will become even more prominent in 2009.”

Jake McKee, author of Community Guy & Principal at AntsEyeView

“I don’t know that the communities themselves will evolve, per se. Online communities, in some form, have been around for decades and while the tools alter over time, the social dynamics stay the same. That said, certainly our understanding of how best to implement community and social activities will continue to grow in 2009. In fact, with the recession, I wouldn’t be surprised if social media doesn’t get a boost in usage by companies. When budgets are tight, people start looking to other opportunities.
My real hope, however, is that 2009 is the year when agencies and brands alike start to think in terms of wholistic customer experience and business strategy rather than social media and community building. I’d like to see the financial crisis of 2009 bring out the strategic thinkers in all of us, connecting marketing to support to customer service to product design in order to best serve customers.”


Rich Millington, author of Feverbee: Ideas for Building Online Communities

A lot of companies will want to replicate Obama’s success. Politicians, especially, will be eager to snap up some online community hotshots.
I also think my mum will join an online community. Not just my mum, but millions of internet newcomers like her who will discover technology is actually rather easy. The benefits of joining a community will finally outweigh the harsh learning curve.


I predict that *some* marketers will realize what they’ve been missing and decide that niche communities are worth their time and can ultimately add to the bottom line. Fingers crossed!

Other predictions you may have missed:

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