By Beth J. Bates, New Media Special Correspondent

As we enter this new year, what new technology is on the horizon? How will our existing technologies evolve? Here are a few of my predictions.

  1. Sharing Via Email Will Lose Popularity. Widgets are making it incredibly easy for users to share and broadcast articles, video and other content through services like Twitter, Facebook and iPhone apps. While email won't disappear completely, I think that it will become significantly less important for sharing.
  2. Mobile Websites Will Be a Must. I get excited when I open a website on my iPhone and find that they've taken the time to create a mobile-friendly website. Mobile websites might be optional now, but in the future companies will need to go mobile to be successful online.
  3. Everyone Will Have a Smart Phone. OK, maybe not everyone. But I have turned several clients on to the iPhone and every single one has commented that it changed the way they managed their time. Smart phones are making it easier for professionals to do business without being strapped to their desk all day. And flexibility breeds productivity.
  4. Social Media will Grow Up. With more businesses adopting social media marketing as a line item in their 2010 budgets, service providers like Radian6, Ning and HubSpot will step up their game. While I believe that homegrown applications will never disappear completely, more large, well-funded players will rise to the top to better support businesses at an enterprise level. Social Media jobs will no longer solely go to recent college grads. Seasoned marketing professionals will be tasked with bringing corporate SMM to the next level.
  5. Government Will Get Involved. The FTC has already implemented a policy stating that bloggers must disclose when they have received compensation to endorse a company or product. Look for the government, particularly the FTC and IRS, to start looking more closely at blogging.

Where do you think social media will be a year from now?

Beth J. Bates consults with Hinge on social media tool selection and strategy and helps its clients find effective ways to leverage these new mediums to meet business goals.