We can expect to see the rapid development (and disappearance) of new tools and concepts over the next few years. Today Twitter is on top of the microcontent heap, but tomorrow it may be identi.ca or Plurk--or perhaps standalone microblogging won't end up being sustainable to a large audience. In the Social Network world, consumers have already shifted from Friendster to MySpace to Facebook, and all three sites continue to seek new tools (and business models) to draw and keep users.
The explosion of social concepts will continue with multiple tools and sites competing to solve a wide array of overlapping needs--social documents, crowdsourcing, video sharing and editing, geolocation, customer service networks, wikis, social bookmarks, product ratings, lifestreams, and social concepts we can't even yet imagine. It will be a dizzying and confusing time as organizations track, assess, test, implement and reject different Social Media sites, tools and approaches.
We'll come to appreciate (as we did with the Internet) that Social Media is not monolithic; it is not a single set of tools or strategies that every organization can simply plug and play. Best practices are still evolving, but soon it will be understood there are no simple checklists. Brands and organizations will share some similarities in the way Social Media is adopted, but there will be important and strategic differences that reflect and help to create points of differentiation.
Much like in the era before the Internet matured and tools converged, companies that stay abreast of the rapid changes and embrace small risks will gain competitive advantage, evolving their tactics and programs as Social Media evolves. Those that sit on the sideline and wait for it to get sorted out will quickly find themselves at a competitive disadvantage.