If there is one phrase that is ridiculously overused on the Web, it is the term “Social media”. If you sit down and think about it for a second, “Social Media” is the same as “Web 2.0”, “New Media”, and a whole list of other catch phrases people throw around on the interwebs.
Putting aside all the buzz, the truth is that using these platforms whether it is Facebook, Twitter, or Google+, enables users to communicate and connect with people from around the world they would otherwise never have encountered.
Having said that, and despite the amazing things that have been accomplished on the social Web, there is so much more room for improvement, and the mobile phone will facilitate those improvements in the coming years.
One of the interesting phenomena of social media and the Web in general is that you can basically say and do whatever you want, since everything is virtual and no one can confirm the validity of your tweet/status/update.
This is already starting to change with services like Foursquare that basically bridge the social you and the real you. Of course, there are many other location-based services decreasing this gap as well.
If there is one characteristic of the mobile phone that separates it from the desktop environment, it is its portability and “Always on” nature. With location sensors improving daily and all smartphones coming with this capability built in, the future of social media will be a whole lot closer to our real lives than in it is now. Let’s just put it this way, your Google+ Circles will be seriously overlapped with your real social circles, you know, the ones you actually talk to in real life.
In continuation to the location point I mentioned above, the social Web lets you remain as anonymous as you would like. You can protect your Twitter updates, increase your Facebook privacy, or share personal updates to your very limited Google+ circles.
The future of social media, if mobile has what to say about it, will be a whole lot less anonymous. As smartphones advance and include more and more sensors and state-of-the-art capabilities, your mobile phone will be sharing more and more info about you without you even knowing.
Before you jump and yell “but what about my privacy?” I think the type of information we tend to keep private today, will be the type of data we will be happy to share tomorrow and your smartphone will be the tool you use to do that. You don’t believe me? Just think about the first time you heard about Foursquare and thought “I would never share my current location across the Web. Why would I?” Well, it seems people, 10 million of them, now disagree and voluntarily share their whereabouts with their networks, despite the obvious dangers of burglaries that accompany such an announcement.
Consolidation of Streams
Like it or not, the very nature of a mobile device is limited access to screen real estate, which means less flexibility on text and other types of content. What you can read on a 27’ screen will be a lot more difficult to consume on a 4’ mobile display.
What that means as far as social media is concerned is that in tomorrow’s world that is dominated by mobile devices, users will not have a Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and RSS stream, but they will all be consolidated into one. Think Flipboard meets Google+ meets iPhone.
With smartphones beginning to replace laptops, which already replaced desktops, all your content will have to be much more manageable on a small screen. Of course, this is already happening with apps like Flyscreen, Pulse, and many others. Exciting things coming from Flipboard too.
Take the power of social media, throw in a little location sauce, and add a layer of real time push notifications, and what you have is a super powerful and engaging platform to interact with your community on a whole new level.
Just imagine a world in which someone you connected with on Facebook or Twitter bought a new tablet with their NFC-enabled device and enabled their phone to share that info. You are on the market for a new computing device and are near a store that carries that tablet. Your phone then notifies you based on your social graph and recent updates that you should enter the store and purchase that specific tablet.
The amazing thing about that scenario is that no part of it is unrealistic even today. In fact, coming up with that scenario was actually difficult since every other situation I tried to imagine is already possible today and actually takes place on a daily basis.
Last but not least, if today, social media is primarily based on text updates with the ability to share photos and videos at will, the future of social media will be the exact opposite.
With smartphones increasing their photography capabilities, there will be no more need for point n shoot cameras, and your primary camera and video camera will be on you at all times.
That means a whole lot more photo and video sharing, not to mention audio. On tomorrow’s social Web, you will connect with others based on interest and location like we do today, but you will find yourself connecting with people with whom you do not necessarily share interests, mainly because you enjoyed the video/photo/or audio clip they shared on the social network that most likely does not exist today.
In conclusion, it is an exciting time to be on the Web and as the Web continues to change and evolve, so does user behavior. As the mobile phone continues to take a more central role in our day to day lives, it will begin to influence the way we do mundane things including socializing on the internet. Like I said, exciting times.
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