The Future of Social Media

the-future-of-social-media

On 18th May 2012, Facebook became a public listed company and its stock has begun trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Facebook priced its IPO at US$38 per share and valued the company at US$104 billion. This value is even higher than Yahoo, eBay and Groupon combined. If this figure does not impressed you imagine this: With over 1.7 Billion monthly active users, if Facebook is a country, it would be the largest country in the world.
Facebook heralded a new era of the media, hence the Social Media. It represents a new way of disseminating information and content sharing. The interaction of the traditional media such as television, radio, and newsprint have always been a one way interaction, with the public being at the receiving end. Interactions can be done through these media but not on a real-time basis.



Even by allowing interaction, limited freedom are given to the public as the editors or content managers of these traditional media control what should be and what should not be printed or aired. This creates monopoly of content and some politicians, or even governments, use this advantage as a tool for propagating their interests to the public.

ORIGIN OF SOCIAL MEDIA

However, it is hard to appreciate the new media if you do not know the origin of the traditional media. Basically, media is known as a method of communication between people, commonly used to distribute news, information and views. The need to disseminate information was well established even when our species were living in caves. This can evidently be seen from the cave paintings and stone manuscripts. The method then evolved into other forms of disseminations such as using homing pigeons and manuscripts using bones, clay tablets and papyrus. As people developed new technology for printing, newspaper was created and circulated to people and it remains as the popular choice of media for sharing information up until the 21st century, besides television and radio. And then the internet was born.

origin-of-social-media

The main reason behind the creation of the internet is basically for connectivity between computer users. The ARPAnet, considered as the grandfather of World Wide Web was created in 1969 with the objective of connectivity and data sharing. From that simple solution, the internet has now evolved into what is now known as Web 2.0. The evolution of this media has one common objective – to connect with people through the sharing of information. Human beings are always curious, and curiosity helps human species to develop and advance through researches, explorations etc. We want to know what is happening around us and especially people closed to us.



According to Anthony Robbins, one of the basic needs of human being is to stay connected with one another. We have this dire need to know things around us that may or may not affect us. The success of the new media is that it allows the connection to happen among a large number of people in the world simultaneously and in real-time. One can now have an access to important real-time information of public interest such as a natural disaster or unimportant private information such as a friend just went to the bathroom. Whatever the reason is, these new media represents a new level of connectivity that cannot be obtained from the traditional media.

WHAT IS SOCIAL MEDIA?

what-is-social-media

Human beings have always been social even without the aid of the internet. Previously, the need for social engagement depended mostly on social events and the traditional media. Only with the creation of the internet we learn to rely less on this traditional method. Social Media offers us unique identities, but with global access. The interaction is done in real-time and with instant result. Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein define Social Media as “A group of internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0 and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content.” According to them, there are six different types of Social Media. The six types are Collaborative Projects, Blogs and Microblogs, Content Communities, Social Networking Sites, Virtual Game Worlds and Virtual Social Worlds. Among the popular names that are usually associated with Social Media are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Foursquare, Wikipedia and Blogspot. The platform behind Social Media is basically the internet that consists of web-based and mobile based technologies. These technologies are used to translate communication into interactive dialogue among the users through a shared platform.

Six Types of Social Media Platform
Collaborative Projects, Blogs and Microblogs, Content Communities, Social Networking Sites, Virtual Game Worlds and Virtual Social Worlds.



WHO ARE THE PLAYERS?

There are several players who emerge quite early in the game such as Friendster and MySpace in the early 2000. However, users are quick to change their Social Media platform based on current trends and popularity. As older players grew out of favour, new players emerged from the industry and became the new trend for the users. Among notable players that have dominated the Social Media industry for recent years are Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Google enter quite late into the picture with their Google Plus platform. There are now many Social Media players now competing with Facebook such as Snapchat and Instagram.

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WHAT’S NEXT?

As time goes by, Social Media will be more integrated into our daily lifestyle. This ranges from the moment we wake up to brush our teeth, to when we shop in our favourite mall. It will be ubiquitous as the technology of internet based mobile apps gets much smaller and have stronger computer power. Dennis Crowley, co-founder of Foursquare said, “The future of Social Media is that the social graph becomes so ubiquitous in everything we do that we stop using the term “Social Media”. The normal social experience of shopping will be further enhanced as we will be having at our fingertips a river flow of information such as who among your friends have been there, what do they bought and their reviews on the products. The Social Media has impact the way the industries operate their businesses.

Before the existence of social media, the industry has always relied on traditional media such as television, radio and newsprint for their marketing. But today producers and marketers are using social media to introduce, promote, advertise, and even sell their products. Even the traditional media is jumping on the bandwagon and starting to embrace the Social Media by making it an integral part of their business. This can already be seen in some Television programmes that integrate live tweets from their audiences. Among notable international publishers that have already embraced Social Media are Wall Street Journal who leveraged on Instagram applications to interact with their readers and The Economist who optimized Google Plus and YouTube to generate dialogues and debates.
Through Social Media, learning experience will also be enhanced as high quality education can be accessed by almost anyone and anywhere.



This was already shown by Khan Academy that was created in 2006 by Salman Khan, a graduate of MIT and Harvard Business School. By utilising YouTube, the group provides free online collection of video tutorials that covers various subjects – from mathematics, history, healthcare, and economics to physics. People around the world with access to internet will be able to learn instantaneously through this platform. On the commerce front, the Social Media is already making an impact to the commerce activities. It is now creating a massive shift of consumer’s behaviour from just simply searching for information on product to searching information on product based by people preferences and review. For the last three years, we have witnessed the exponential growth of registered users of Social Media platform. As businesses now started to learn about this new media, for the immediate future we will see enterprises integrating with this Social Media and grow their businesses by tapping into these platforms.

FUTURE TRENDS

1. Virtual and Augmented Reality

Some of the current trends that are predicted to shape and ultimately change the landscape of Social Media in the future are: Augmented Reality Augmented Reality (AR) is defined in the Wikipedia as “a live, direct or indirect, view of physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.” The objective of Augmented Reality is to create a system whereby the user’s reality is combined together with Virtual Augmentation. By using this technology, the world’s environment in where the users are currently interfacing can be duplicated in a computer. The system allows the environment to be augmented with additional information through the use of smartphones, mobile computer and internet. Even though Augmented Reality has not taken off quite yet, it is widely expected that it will be the main force in shaping the Social Media in the near future. The trend can already be seen as Google has recently started the development of what they called Google Glass. It is a glass that is equipped with Augmented Reality technology and will give the users the experience of a Virtual Augmented Reality lifestyle.

2. Artificial Intelligence

As the Social Media platform grew, there will be an increase of user-generated content data in the internet. This will result in the influx of information flooding the daily users of the internet every second of the day. A system is needed to filter out this tremendous amount of information and to customize and tailor it according to the need of the customer. Technology supporting the system will be created to understand and capture consumers’ behaviours and preferences down to the individual level. Enterprises can benefit from this as they can identify and select potential customers and target audiences. Therefore it is inevitable that better and artificial intelligent recommendations services will be developed in the near future. Evidently, these intelligent recommendations services exist in current website and applications. Amazon.com provides one of the best pioneer examples of this system. Each time a customer purchased books or other items in Amazon.com, the website intelligently captured the user’s preferences and interest.



The next time the customer logged into the website, the customer’s landing page will have advertisements on items that are related to the user’s purchased history. Recommendations are also made by the website on what the customer should buy. Hence, in the future, instead of people browsing the internet for information, the internet will basically ‘browse’ people and deliver dedicated information. Mark Zuckerberg, Founder of Facebook, said, “When you give everyone a voice and give people power, the system usually ends up in a really good place.” As Social Media gives everyone a voice and give people power it is, and probably will remain, one of the most important medium of communication that connect the people.

CONCLUSION

As John Lennon once said, “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.” These words amplified the need to have a platform for people in the world to connect. In Lennon’s case, it was music that will bring people together. Today it is the World Wide Web. It is inevitable that someday, almost every person in this world will be connected.

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