Hey, remember “My Space?” Me too, sort of. I think there was something about music and colorful backgrounds, but I can’t really say for sure. That whole experience has grown somewhat hazy for me. It was a different time. It was an era when social networking was fresh and exciting, and I didn’t get 20 emails a day from Linkedin. But even though it’s been less than a decade since My Space’s golden age, the world of social networking has changed drastically.
And guess what? It’s going to keep on changing.
Facebook, arguably the biggest juggernaut in the social networking arena, has recently seen a decline in use. In a recent poll, 34% of current users said that they have spent less time on the site in the past year. But just as My Space once towered above the competition and then fell, Facebook will inevitably be overtaken by one of the other social media networks that it helped spawn. But despite hard times for some of the more established sites, the future doesn’t look like it’s going be social media free anytime soon. Here’s why:
● Marketing. There was a time when watching a YouTube video didn’t mean having to wait an obligatory 5-15 seconds for some pre-roll ad to play itself out. Modern social media is a place for people to connect and share content, but even more than that it’s a place for advertisers to take a look at your personal preferences and information, and then promote products or services that they think you might like. Most users agree that this is annoying. Most advertisers agree that commercials have always been annoying, so users need to suck it up.
Most social media sites agree that advertisers pay them, and unless users want to get stuck with a monthly fee, they’ll keep their ungrateful traps shut (not in so many words). And as 2013 continues into the next few years, the increased need for revenue will drive companies and media sites to invest more and more time and money into marketing. However, the companies that will really benefit from social media are the ones that forego the tired old “shove ads in their face” or “make insane posts about nothing” practices. Businesses that use social media to humanize themselves, and really connect with their customers on a personal level will see amazing returns.
● Oversaturation. I mentioned My Space at the beginning of this article. What was it that made My Space so darn popular? I think that most people who used it would say the same thing: It was the only game in town. Sure, there were precursors such as Friendster and SixDegrees.com, but My Space was really the first modern Social Network site. Now, you can’t swing a dead virtual cat around the internet without bumping into social network and media sites. The reason for this is a simple one: people use them. With the near ubiquity of the Smartphone in America, users are now able to check their Twitter accounts (or whichever site they use) at any time, without having to log onto a home computer. Likewise, new smart devices are constantly being created and upgraded.
Smart home automation is looking to put smart devices that can connect you to your network in places that you might not be willing to bring your phone, and automation companies are using social networks to allow customers to post unbiased reviews. And as social networking capabilities begin to diversify, more people are finding that they prefer one form or another. The future of social networking won’t be one of text-posts, or videos, or Pinterest-style images; it will be all of those things and much more.
● Technological evolution. As I’ve stated, smartphones provided a boost to social media sites by making them accessible on the go. Well, technology marches forward, and new advances such as Google Glass will effectively put your computer screen directly in front of your face at all times. But even more impressive is that soon social networking will move beyond “social.” How’d you like for your oven to be able to tweet you when your rolls are done baking? How about having your fishbowl send you a message when it needs to be cleaned? Inanimate objects using social networking may sound like the next big pixar movie, but it is in fact a reality thanks to new, inexpensive miniature-circuitry.
Social media isn’t going anywhere; it’s going everywhere. So brace yourself, because if you thought that our society was network crazy now, just wait until you start getting tweets from your new shoes telling you about “one weird trick” that personal trainers don’t want you to find out about.