2012.08.21 Brian Chappell, ignitesocialmedia.com.
The 5th year of our social network analysis brought to light some interesting trends regarding Social Networking. Instead of pointing out specifics from our findings, we thought it might be interesting to ask several other social media practioners what they thought about the future of Social Networks. We asked the following 21 individuals these 3 questions:
1. Do you think social networking has hit a saturation point and peaked in user interest?
2. Compared to what happened to MySpace, what do you think is the future of Facebook?
3. For businesses and brands that are just starting to ramp up in 2012, what new social networking trends do you see going forward?
1.In developed countries, social networking is nearing its peak development. A little more significant growth can be achieved in the rest of the world, but there are issues with Internet coverage. The other possible areas will not be the general social networks, but small niche communities by interest, specialization, etc. LinkedIn is already doing this job, but I expect a rise of a few new projects who will do it in a much better way. This year? Next year? Who knows, but it will happen.
2. It’s only a matter of time when all social networks, including Facebook, will start to decline. I am not expecting this to happen in the next year or so, but anything is possible in ten or even five years. One of the problems of Facebook is an increase in complexity. For the newbies, it can be too complicated. For experienced Facebook users, too cluttered. After an unsuccessful IPO, the pressure to better monetize Facebook will lead to even more clutter. So, I’m not expecting any decrease of complexity. And, like in Yahoo!’s case, it can be the start of the end of the empire.
3. In business, social networks for advertising like we see it now are overrated. Monetization is the biggest issue in social networks, so we can expect changes because of that. Direct selling messages may be the next big thing (we can call it “social commerce”), but we should learn how to do it properly. It would be possibly a much better use of peer recommendations to buy something via Facebook. It’s time to have more integration between social networks and CRM, especially in automated data obtainment from social networks that trigger actions in CRM.
Also, there will be some attempts to deal with the content overload. The problem is that there is a huge pile of content, but it can’t be found by the average person. The interest for tools or apps that help make sharing more meaningful and less-cluttered content will rise. Is it a chance for the old media to become more relevant on the Internet? Maybe. Businesses will need to find a sustainable model for creating quality content. This may include more outsourcing, possibly resulting in more jobs for freelancers.