I was recently asked what I thought the future of social media is. That may seem like a pretty broad question, (I had a really hard time coming up with an on the spot answer!) but if you take a close look at the evolution of your favorite online platforms, the future is already coming into view.
TIME POVERTY AND SHARING
If you look at the big 5: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Pinterest, you’ll see that slowly but surely they’re all cross-pollinating into almost the same platform…or at least trying to emulate elements of each other.
Here are 5 quick examples:
- Rumors are swirling that Facebook will soon be implementing the hashtag to index conversations (Twitter)
- LinkedIn has adopted a Facebook-style newsfeed and integrated ads for company pages
- Twitter’s new App ‘Vine’ allows users to post 6-second videos straight to their account (YouTube for Mobile)
- Pinterest users can now mention their friends by putting ‘@’ in front of them (Facebook and Twitter)
- YouTube encourages users to connect their Google+ account and use their real name and profile when liking and commenting on videos (every other social networking site)
Like many forms of technology, the cream eventually rises to the top and we see undeniable trends in demands, ease of use, and profitability.
All of the above examples point to the same two issues: time poverty and sharing. How can we make platform X quicker and easier to use, and make it easier for people to share ANYTHING in an instant.
Google Glass could of course wipe out the playing field (and it very well might turn us into the cyborgs Gen Y has grown up dreaming about), but their track-record in the social game is well below stellar, so it may just be a pipe dream for now.
MEASURING SOCIAL INFLUENCE
Social media has turned everyone into a micro-brand, and it’s turned real brands into people - people who respond to our complaints openly, offer us exclusive deals, and seem to genuinely care about their reputation.
Because of this, many emerging companies like Klout have built their own brand on measuring and placing value on yours, and others still make their living on managing your reputation online.
This could be a mere fad, but since social media has permeated our culture and become such a huge part of our daily life, putting actual value on your social influence seems to matter more and more every day.
We’re already experiencing the infancy of virtual currency with BitCoin - a P2P electronic cash system, but this concept materializes in lots of different ways. For instance, websites like Influenster offer free swag bags monthly to individuals who prove they influence people across social media platforms. It’s starting to literally pay off to have a high follower count on Twitter or a huge audience on YouTube.
High social influence online will translate into real-world profitability and value more and more as online marketing continues it’s up-swing via mobile devices, I predict.
PERSONALIZED AD EXPERIENCES
Online Marketing through social media is a tricky game, and in order to master it, you’ve got to continually analyze your data and adapt your strategy for better performance. It’s a metrics game, it’s a long-term game, and it’s a risky game. So what’s the future of this part of social media? Simple - Personalize it.
Like the world that the great M.T. Anderson created in his futuristic novel “Feed” the future of online marketing is personalized ad experiences and everywhere marketing.
Anything with a hint of automation is a major turn-off. It reeks of spam advertising and it’s almost rude, isn’t it? Auto-DMs after following someone on Twitter, Facebook “Please like my page” blasts to 1,000 people - I think we can agree that these are annoying.
Two great examples of personalized ad implementation are Hulu - which allows you to literally pick between 3 ads on you mini ‘commercial breaks’ during programming, and Podcast advertisements, which are almost always strategically targeted to their listeners. If you listen to any of the popular ones, they almost all advertise Audible.com, an audio book website - because the logic is there. If you love subscribing and listening to hours of podcasts, you’re probably a lot more likely to spend money on an audio book than Joe Blow down the street.
Those are my predictions for the future of social media - and I didn’t even cover content creation and blogging! Some of them are already coming true, and some may take years to come to fruition, but all of them are realistic. What you think is the future of social media? Tweet me @jennyrationx