15 major trends for social networking sites

According to foreign media reports, none of the Internet marketing firms or traditional media are as popular as Social Networking Sites (SNS). It is predicted that the market scale of corporate SNS product will reach $2 billion by 2012. Companies will have lagged behind if they fail to perform in the SNS market.

Meanwhile, SNS is a rapidly changing market. To break into the market, companies must understand the following 15 major development trends:

1. SNS goes mobile. SNS is shifting from the traditional desktop market to the mobile market.

2. Not only is SNS a venue for individual exchanges, it is a marketing platform for companies.

3. SNS will become an ideal advertising medium for companies to target their potential clients.

4. SNS is a threat to the traditional e-mail services.

5. SNS allows advertisers to communicate with their potential customers.

6. The SNS market will be further segmented and new websites will be created to target sub-groups and niche demographics.

7. Companies must discover the 'leaders,' a handful of influential members on SNS websites who can influence others' purchase decisions.

8. 'Crowd-sourcing' means mobilizing the masses. It refers to recruiting an unspecific number of people at low wages or for free to develop products and services.

9. SNS creates more SNS entrepreneurs, and provides more business opportunities.

10. Social networks are connecting to each other, and more sites will begin to integrate their services with one another.

11. SNS may take a cue from computer manufacturer Apple, which introduced a feature in its iTunes software that recommends songs based on music library history. SNS websites may provide similar services for online retailers.

12. Twitter will be sold to Google.

13. Online, money can buy you friendship. Australia's SNS and marketing firm, uSocial, launched a commercial service targeting Twitter users early this month. Twitter users can increase 1,000 followers by spending 87 USD.

14. Don't forget the spectators. There are many spectators who will stay away from social networks or simply watch from the sidelines. Businesses must know and cater for these users even if they are not actively part of any social networks. Yet sometimes they may participate in SNS websites via Google searches.

15. Defend corporate reputation. As companies' presence online grows, they need to protect their online images.