With 2007 in full swing, here are our predictions for the rest of the year to come. In prior years we have given you a mix of business and personal lifestyle predictions, but this year we're sticking to just the online marketing world.

We busted out our omniscient crystal ball, and this is what it told us:

10. Social networking will get more and more niche. Social Networking has blanketed the news for the past 18 months because it works. YouTube and MySpace have built loyal communities through entertaining user-generated content and great tools for communicating with other like-minded people.

However, Social Networking is going NICHE. People use specific tools to connect, recommend, rate, and communicate within their niche groups. For this reason, there are many types of Social Media now and there will be five times this many by the end of next year:

  • B2C: MySpace, Facebook, Gaia, Friendster, Second Life
  • B2B: LinkedIn, Jigsaw
  • Search: Digg, Delicious, Wink, Technorati
  • Shopping: Wists, ThisNext, Woot
  • Expert Communities: Blogs, Wikis
  • Mapping: Geosearch
  • Video: YouTube, TurnHere, Splashcast
  • Images: Flickr

9. Viral campaign Web sites will have a purpose. Over the past couple of years, I've been forwarded hundreds of quirky sites that are experimenting with viral marketing and have no further purpose whatsoever. There are no calls to action or indications as to why these sites exist.

A few examples of pointless viral sites: Patron's SimplyPerfect, eROI's WearShortShorts, and CareerBuilder's popular Monk-e-Mail. Next year will feature more substantial viral campaign sites, like Philips's ShaveEverywhere, PassportToFlavor from Kettle Foods, and Snakes on a Plane.

8. User-generated content will be a component on most new Web sites. Many companies are just starting to realize the great potential of Web sites with user-generated content that enable customers co-create with their brands. Ultimately, allowing users to post their stories through text, images, and video helps to build community and long-term brand loyalty. In short, it works, and companies large (Diesel-U-Music) and small (Dunderdon Workspace) will employ this strategy much more frequently next year.

7. Email marketers will demand more strategy from their marketing agencies. From the client-side email marketer's perspective, there are only minor differences between the top email marketing software platforms. Email marketers will demand to know more advanced strategies for their email programs by asking questions like these: How does this email render in the default settings of the different email environments (AOL, Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail, etc.)? What content shows up above and below the fold on the email preview? What content and call to action will really resonate with my target audience? How can I be a resource and still convert click-throughs into qualified leads?

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Ryan Buchanan is the CEO of eROI (www.eroi.com).