Given how important status symbols are in the real world it was kind of inevitable that they would start to be seen in the virtual world as well.
Being connected is suddenly seen as the thing to be and what started with showing off the number of visitors to your Flickr page or Wordpress blog now also encompasses the number of your Facebook friends, Twitter followers, YouTube Channel subscribers, LinkedIn connections and a host of other measures that tell the world you are tech savvy.
According to trendwatching.com, in the next 12 months you can’t go wrong supplying your (online-loving) customers with any kind of symbol, virtual or 'real world' that helps them display to peers their online contributions, 'interestingness', creations or popularity.
Just as people like to be seen consuming luxury products to show off their wealth, or driving a Prius to let us know they care about the environment, they also like their virtual offerings to be somehow recognised.
As more and more people invest in building a digital brand such as their own blog or online diary you can expect to see a greater demand for all sorts of digital endorsements of that brand.
Interestingly, one extra element to watch out for is new status symbols that straddle the 'real' and 'online' worlds.
From physical manifestations of digital status (think personalised Facebook and Twitter memorabilia), to online recognition of physical activities (status updates or badges based on real-world visits), consumers will seek to display their online status symbols in all arenas.
For example, Twournal enables Twitter users to transform their tweets and pictures into a real-life published journal. In addition to creating their own 'books', users can also buy and sell publications from other users. US based CrowdedInk offers an app that allows users to generate mugs filled with pictures of their Facebook friends or Twitter followers. Users only need to enter their username and a preview of the mug is automatically generated in minutes.
As more and more businesses look to create fans from consumers they are also going to need to be conscious of recognising those fans and rewarding them for their patronage in every world they might inhabit – real or otherwise.