What’s Next In Social Media?

vendor communication_AdobeStock_145503508.jpegIs social media becoming outdated? There was MySpace and Friendster. Now’s there’s Facebook, Linked In and Twitter. But just as MySpace and Friendster phased out, what’s to say that the ever popular Facebook won’t too. “As adoption of social networks soared in previous years, growth is now plateauing.” eMarketer forecasts “that Facebook growth will hit only 13.4% this year after experiencing 38.6% acceleration in 2010 and a staggering 90.3% ascension the year before. Facebook isn’t alone in its sobriety either. The rate of Twitter user adoption fell from 293.1% growth in 2009 to 26.3% this year.” [1] Social Media has been on a steep climb since 2002, but just as everything does, it will reach its peak and then plummet. As one can see it has already started, it’s just a matter of when. However, according to social media leader, Brian Solis, a principal at a major research-based advisory firm, Altimeter, “The end of Social Media 1.0 is the beginning of a new era of business, consumer engagement, and relevance.” [2] It is unlikely that social media is one of those trends that goes out the window along with beanie babies and pet rocks. It is probably here to stay and is just on the verge of a new transformation in order to stay relevant to a modern society where “consumers are becoming much more guarded” [3] against advertising on social media platforms. So what is going to be next in social media?

In order to find the next level in social media, one has to understand its purpose. Having grown familiar with it for almost a decade now, we have come to the conclusion that there are four main functions of social media: to network, advertise and market yourself for work; to connect with friends, peers, & family; to connect with customers and advertise your business; and to stay connected to products, services, and brands as a fan mainly for promotional discounts. In the good old days we used personal interaction and land lines to reach out to friends and network, we used cold calls to help get a business or career started and got discounts by carrying around a card with hole punches in it every time we bought something. Now social media is our medium to fulfill these needs. But no matter how innovative the concept of social media was back in 2002, the so called “half life” of anything in technology is historically short, so no doubtedly, the next new Facebook is just around the corner.

The fallout points in social media platforms today are that they don’t fully serve all of these functions in one place. For example, you may use Facebook to connect with friends and advance business, but would you use it to showcase your work and credentials? Or would you rather use LinkedIn to do that? It doesn’t have the same degree of professional clout as LinkedIn does. Likewise, would you post those crazy pictures of yourself partying on LinkedIn? You have to maintain many different sites in order to fulfill all four functions. According to the Global Web Index, a “report that delivers insight into how consumers are using social networks and technology,” not only is “growth in social network usage among 16- to 24-year-olds in the US stalling, and, in a few countries usage within this group is declining” but “Facebook is no longer the one stop shop for the total internet experience.” [4] If there was a single social media website that incorporated the best of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter and even went so far as to incorporate subscription media streaming services such as Netflix, Pandora, Time Warner, DISH, DIRECTV, video-conferencing and integrated mobile apps, then it might have the potential to become king of the next generation of social media platforms.

To fully envision this new, more integrated, level of social media, I have outlined a conceptual layout of social media 2.0. Adhering to the aforementioned 4 main functions: Home, Work, Consumer & Business, your profile would be comprised of 4 related sections.

The HOME section would be “Facebook-esque” serving your personal life and would allow you to connect to friends and family, post personal pictures and comments, maintain your own personal blog, etc. An issue, with old school social media platforms however, is once you’re a friend you can see everything on that person’s profile. Therefore, now, each profile will have the option to select its own privacy settings in case you want to share that crazy night with your close friends, but not necessarily with your boss, who might be a connection in your WORK profile. By breaking the site down into these separate sections you can still keep personal life and work separate, as they should be. This section would be where you do all your entertainment consumption as well. You can subscribe to either free or paid services whether they be an online version of your current service such as DIRECTV or Cable, or streaming services such as Pandora or Hulu. Similar to TV, you can surf through channels, record shows via an online DVR service which can synch to your traditional DVR at home and set up alerts as to when a show or movie becomes available to stream for free. Best of all, you would have the ability to watch your selections on whatever registered platform you liked. But that’s not even the center of the pie yet. Since you were already chatting with your friends, why stop when you want to watch a movie. This is where the novel “e-date” would come into play. Invite friends or dates to watch a movie or show or listen to music with you, and via a messenger application or video chat on your smart phone, you can share the experience in real-time running the streams simultaneously, as if you were there together. Plan in advance and schedule your e-date in your profile calendar which of course would also be synchronized with the applications you use for your work and home calendars.

The second section, WORK, would be the LinkedIn function, where one can network with industry contacts, gain recommendations, and showcase your work in an online portfolio. This is also where you would present your resume and discuss any current projects you are working on. Based on your industry, you will get to choose a different calibrated template for your profile depending on whether you’re creative, scientific, technical, domestic, etc. with related designs. For example, an artist might have a profile with a funky background and display a gallery of their work in their portfolio. Their SM Profile could even replace a costly customized website to promote their work because it essentially acts as the same thing. Whereas a doctor would have a more serious background and could post medicinal journals or case studies they have worked on. You can have the option to start your own “Industry Insights Blog” which you can share with the colleagues and clients you connect with. This section would also incorporate a video/web conferencing capability. During a web-conference, people can automatically view your online WORK profile so they can know who you are as you suggest that stellar idea.

Since starting one’s own business is becoming a more common phenomenon, social media is a great place for getting your business out there. The third section, called BUSINESS, would be for the entrepreneurial minded. This would be your platform to inform people what you are selling, what you can offer loyal customer such as discounts and sales, and even directly book appointments with clients.

Lastly, the fourth section, CONSUMER, would be for fans and loyal customers. If you’re a fan of let’s say the Lakers, Target, Olive Garden, and Nike, under this section you would select those businesses as your “Favs” and you would automatically be alerted to Nike brand updates, pre-sale Lakers game tickets, or fan-only discounts to Target and Olive Garden. You could even have the option to track and correlate your most common credit card purchases so that you’ll always be in the loop on new products, upgrades, recalls, additions, rebates, etc based on what you actually buy and use. This section is where you could also record a Wishlist and you could receive alerts as to when a product is available and compare prices.

Common features that would occur across all profiles would include: Status bar; Tweets; Subscription Services; Apps; Devices; and Email.

In your status bar, it would list not only all your friends’ availability, but also what they are currently streaming, so you could “opt in” and share the experience with them at the exact same point where they are.  At the same time a messenger application of your choice would startup automatically on any device of your choosing preset in your options, so you can chat at the same time. You can’t get more connected than that. Part of the idea of this new level of social media is that it will integrate not only multiple platforms at once allowing you to really multitask, but also integrate technology allowing you to be more social.

The Twitter function would be throughout all the sections drawing in tweeters. You can tweet on the main page which will carry across all profiles or on just one individual profile. You will be able to adjust privacy settings on whether or not you want to share tweets across all profiles, some or none, either always or on a tweet by tweet basis.

From the main page you would be able to manage all your subscription services for each profile. For example, you can subscribe to link your Cable and Pandora radio accounts to your HOME section, subscribe to a web/video conference service or office messenger service in your WORK profile.

You would even be able to link your home and work email accounts to the free email account provided on your profile so you can check all your email in one place and not have to sign in separately. Email is not the only thing that could be synched. Websites such as Meetup.com could synchronize with your profile so that you can schedule a meet-up or look for a group without having to leave the site and log in separately.

Lastly, apps have endless possibilities. New ones are coming out everyday doing any function in the world you can think of. Synching your mobile device apps on your phone with those on your social media profiles will allow you further flexibility in access. You would be able to buy apps through the site and synch to your profiles and devices. For example, you could install all your game and life management apps on your HOME profile, price tracking apps on your CONSUMER profile, tock tracking apps on your BUSINESS profile, and time and expense tracker apps on your WORK profile.

Where would you like to view your selection?
ο Home Computer
ο Work Computer
ʘ iPad
ο iPhone
ο iPod
ο Living Room TV
ο Bedroom TV
ο Other

When you utilize these other functions, you would be able to choose which device you want to work from for different things. For example, when you begin streaming a movie, say “When Harry Met Sally,” a pop up windowwill ask you where would you like to view your selection?

Logging into several different websites to manage your profiles and setting up each profile with the same basic info is redundant and time-consuming. It would be great if you could do it just once and it would reach across all your profiles. Many users today complain of “Facebook fatigue” because of all the work it takes to maintain your profile. Social Media 2.0 eliminates that fatigue by consolidating one’s online social life and real life into one manageable vehicle. The new generation of social media would be a one stop shop. You would be able to manage your life and enjoy all your subscriptions through one site, but across multiple platforms, integrating all technology and optimizing customization at an unprecedented level, and yet keep each aspect of your life separate from the other. I think we have come to the realization that there is a future in social media, the question is, when will the next Zuckerman start the “Face”-off?

SOURCES

[1] eMarketer. What Changing Social Media Usage Means for Marketers. http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?R=1008550. August 22, 2011.

[2] Solis, Brian. The End of Social Media 1.0. http://www.briansolis.com/2011/08/the-end-of-social-media-1-0/.  Aug 29, 2011.

[3] Solis, Brian. The End of Social Media 1.0. http://www.briansolis.com/2011/08/the-end-of-social-media-1-0/.  Aug 29, 2011.

[4] Wave 5 Trends – GlobalWebIndexhttp://www.slideshare.net/Tomtrendstream/wave-5-trends-master-august-2011-slideshare-version. August 2011.

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