Trends for 2012 in the social health conversation

With just one more virtual page left to tear off on my digital calendar, my thoughts are turning to the coming year.

What trends for 2012 may we discern in the social health conversation?

Here are some of my thoughts as to the residual, dominant and emerging subjects.

trends for 2012 in the social health conversationSlipping off the map

It’s time to say goodbye to listening and engagement.

Of course, this is not to say that either idea is somehow no longer relevant.

Success on the Social Web begins and ends with good listening, and we should always be looking to interrogate and refine our listening strategies and test our existing methodologies for relevance.

Similarly, if you are not engaging on the Social Web, you are not paticipating in the Social Web.

To reach for an analogy: on sitting down in an exam room, I always found it useful to begin by arranging my paraphernalia on the desk.  It cleared my mind, relieved a certain degree of stress, and helped me prepare to order my thoughts in the same manner. However, if I had spent the entire duration of the exam re-organising my desktop, I wouldn’t have written anything.

It has been time to act for several years, not to reflect on the creation of the conditions of possibility for action. A reluctance on the part of any community of interest participating in the health conversation on the Social Web to acknowledge this can only smack of wilful prevarication and a hunt for excuses to undertake the difficult work of integrating Social Media into strategic and tactical activities as part of a broader endeavour to evolve into a truly social enterprise.

Compass points

Mobile, gamification and search all remain in the ascendant – and not all for reasons that I’m convinced have been thought through.

Focusing on mobile in isolation is in my opinion a red herring.

Firstly, the definition is so broad as to be meaningless. Is a wifi connected laptop mobile? Are you ‘consuming content in a mobile setting’ whilst browsing a tablet computer on your knees with half an eye on the television? How much data do you pull through your smartphone whilst connected to your home wifi at a useable speed compared to the pixel-by-pixel connections speeds you may be subjected to when roaming?

Secondly, in the same way that it make more sense to talk of ‘media’ once more rather than ‘social media’ due to the ubiquity of the latter, so when we speak of ‘mobile’ what we are really referring to is ‘an increasingly popular context within which information is sought and consumed across a variety of platforms’. All other definitions approach meaninglessness.

I’d hazard you will no more want ‘mobile’ appended to you job title or bio at the end of 2012 than you want ‘digital’ to be as we approach the end of 2011.

Nearly everything is digital. Nearly everything will be mobile. Talking about the importance of ‘mobile [anything]’ is therefore a redundancy.

Gamification is drifting closer to these rank waters too at a time when maturing social platforms such as Foursquare are downplaying the gaming elements within their products in favour of other themes such as discovery.

Much of what we have come to describe as ‘gamification’ refers either to the integration of user experience elements which mimic the ease of use of option-selection and execution within game environments, or the co-opting of user interface characteristics reminiscent of game protocols.

I would not be surprised to see mobile and gamification in 2012 go the way of listening and engagement in 2011.

Interest in search is enduring as our definition of what constitutes search, where it is undertaken, and the sources of information from which results are being drawn continues to evolve. I say more about this in the company of Faisal Ahmed and Alex Butler in this recent Digitally Sick podcast.

On the horizon

I remain convinced that the significance of social metadata will continue to grow in 2012, most visibly in the first instance in the form of influence metrics.

I’m also expecting to see a rise in the importance of the management of credentialing issues critical to acceptance and success in social environments such as credibility.

So: what you think the trends for 2012 in the social health conversation will be?

2 thoughts on “Trends for 2012 in the social health conversation

  1. Pingback: Why Social Media? – Andrew Spong Shares His Thoughts With H2onlinehu (Part 1) « h2onlinehu

  2. Pingback: Miért közösségi média? – Interjú Andrew Spong-gal, a HCSMEU alapítójával (1. Rész) « HCSMHU

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