The future of social media is going to alter the way we see the world. In the next few years, everything will change: the way we communicate, share our experiences and our realtionships with smart devices. As technology and social media integrate into every part of our lives, social media will literally become engrained in who we are. Nobody knows for certain what the future holds but experts all agree that the below trends will appear in the next few years.
The History of Social Media in 90 seconds
Here is a list of 10 exciting ways we can expect social media to change over the course of our lifetime:
1. Social Media Will Not Exist Anymore – Social Media will become so widespread and common that it will not be called social media anymore. Instead it will just be called mass media. The term ‘social media’ is so ingrained into our everyday existence that the phrase seems redundant, like “color TV” or “cordless phone.” We will look back one day at the dawn of social media and remember it’s beginning while our children will never know a life without it. Furthermore, social media will become so engrained in ‘who we are’ that it will become an extension of self and “we will cease to notice it unless it’s missing – like the way you never notice electricity until it’s gone (5)”.
2. The Virtual’ Experience – Already news outlets have begun to use videos from bystanders to ‘tell’ the story. However, experts believe in the future all videos will be “knit together into a single immersive video, enabling the viewer to virtually experience the event in real time (1)”. This means the user will be able to “go inside” a news experience. This will change the way people view and participate in current events and widen the scope of possibility. Not only will you be able to watch the latest hurricane but you will be able to ‘experience it’ as if you were there.
This will offer a unique opportunity for companies to showcase new products and services in a virtual world. It will also change the online experience as users will be able to test drive a car from the comfort of their own home. It also opens up the possibility of an increased global awareness as we are able to connect more deeply to people around the world.
3. Social Media Becomes a Part of You – The cellphone has just overtaken the desktop as the primary means of accessing the Internet but this trend doesn’t stop there. In the future, social media is going to become even more invasive and more a part of who we are. With inventions such as the Apple Watch, Tesla Model S car with built-in internet, Oculus VR Glasses and the Google Glasses the way we are accessing social media is changing. In May, Google Glasses became widely available, if not affordable ($1149 US on Amazon). Some experts go as far to say that technology will evolve into an implanted device in our bodies that will connect to everything around us.
“When our eyes are a video camera, our ears a microphone, and we are wearing
clothes with code in the fibers, we’ll likely share our lives on a biorhythmic scale.”
With this shift companies will have to make sure all of their content will be able to “take advantage” of this shift. For example: this means not just posting text-heavy content but “utilizing video, tappable post elements, and other tools to increase the richness of the customer experience and interaction with you (2)”. Additionally as virtual reality opens up endless possibilities we will have to look at the ethical standards and limitations that apply to this ‘new world’ order.
4. Even Your Fridge will Get Social – Everything from home appliances like thermostats, bathroom scales and refrigerators to wearables like fitness bracelets and smart watches are now collecting data and sharing this information. Lots of these devices are also pushing notifications to Facebook, Twitter and other networks, which is a trend that will continue. We currently “have thermostats that learn our preferences, watches that take our pulse, and Nike even knows how often and how fast we run, and this is just the beginning (3)”. For example: in the future, a smart fridge that tracks your Facebook may see that you are having a party and will connect the fact that you are out of beer and send you a reminder. Although no one knows for certain what the future holds, one thing we do know is that the connection between smart devices and social media will merge at some point. Although this presents endless opportunity for companies to collect customer data, again ethical standards will need to be established to protect people.
5. Filter Information – With all the data floating around in social media, the ability to filter this information will become more advanced. This way people will be able to filter information from the brands/people and news that pertains to them. Additionally as people tire with Facebook they are seeking out new more targeted social media sites like Foodie or Kaboodle. Some of these sites boasts millions of visitors every month and they are growing bigger every day as people are looking to connect with like-minded people. This market is expected to grow expedientially and there is a niche social networking site for everyone: shopaholics, foodies, exercise gurus, travel attics, etc. Here are the Top 5 Niche Websites.
6. Virtual Socializing – Instead of going to the beach with a friend, one day you will be able to use technology to visit a virtual beach. Jason Stein, Laundry Service Founder & President, explains “All I do all week is look at my phone, reading articles, liking posts, sending emails/tweets/messages. In the future, I will “disconnect” by putting on Oculus virtual reality glasses when I get home—and suddenly I’ll be sitting courtside at the Knicks game with my Facebook friends.” Virtual socializing will become more and more prevalent as people strapped for time and money will instead opt for a virtual experience. As an alternative to hopping on your stationary bike you will have the opportunity to go biking through the Alps with your best friend. Or instead of going shopping alone you can go to the virtual mall with your mom who lives 2,000 kms away.
7. More Privacy – The demand for anonymous social media is only going to get bigger in the future. In the past people were concerned with how many ‘friends’ they could accumulate, however, people are becoming more selective in who makes up their ‘friends’ list. In other words, we used to be impressed with how many people we could share our lives with, and now we’re more interested in limiting what we share and with whom – quality vs. quantity. Those who want to take privacy to ‘the next level’ can use apps such as Whisper and Secret. They allow you to reveal your innermost thoughts to the Internet without being traced. In October, Facebook rolled out its new chat app Rooms, which allows users to create chat rooms around shared interests, with no requirement to reveal name or location. People have voiced their concerns with privacy and technology is aiming to meet these demands.
8. Short and Sweet – With less time and more information people are more interested in pictures and short bursts of copy. That is why the fastest growth right now is happening on Tumblr, Instagram and Snapchat. People don’t have the time or interest to read long-winded self-interest posts – they are looking for a quick in-and-out. The strongest competition seems to be in the video market – here everyone is competing for a piece of the pie (Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Vine, Pinterest). In fact, “brand-supported short video content is an unstoppable force, so Google/YouTube clearly have targets on their backs (4)”. Video will also be equally as important as the virtual world becomes more and more prevalent.
9. Payment Options in Social Media – There is a hidden payment feature inside Facebook’s messenger app just waiting to be activated as many of tech’s biggest players are battling it out in the mobile payment space including: Apple, Square, Stripe and Paypal. Nobody is quite sure why Facebook is trying to connect payment options to social media but it may be to leverage customer purchasing data or to keep Facebook as a one-stop destination. As the worlds of social media, technology and consumerism start to blur one can only image the possibilities. The one thing that’s for sure: you can expect to see major social networks aggressively seeking to handle your financial transactions in the future. Earlier this year, both Twitter and Facebook began beta-testing “buy” buttons which appear alongside certain tweets and posts and allow users to make purchases with just a click or two, without ever leaving the network. With this new feature, an online seller could post a picture and the viewer could buy with the click of the button – shopping made easy!
10. Accessibility for Everyone – Recently Facebook acquired the company Ascenta (who build and distribute solar-powered drones) in an attempt to help it deliver wireless Internet access to underserved parts of the world, such as Africa. Facebook hopes to have the drones in the air at some point in 2015, ever expanding the world’s largest social network. This comes on the heels of Amazon’s recent announcement that they will be making deliveries using drones. One can only wonder what other purposes drones may serve in the future.
- Cory Bergman, BreakingNews Co-Founder
- Otis Kimzey, Simply Measured, Director
- Alec McNayr and Alan Beard, the co-founders of McBeard Media
- Sarah Green, Harvard Business Review, Senior Associate Editor and Host of HBR Ideacast