It seems like just yesterday that I was writing one of my first blog posts for Projectline, talking about social media in 2011. Some of it was accurate (Facebook continuing their dominance) and some wasn’t so accurate (consolidation of social media). I didn’t predict the launch of one of the biggest new social networks, Google+, and who could have predicted the role of social media in the numerous natural disasters in 2011? Enough of that, though—let’s get started on 2012!
There’s lots of talk about how content is this or that, but the fact is that content is created to be consumed. While sharing isn’t new, I think the ease with which it happens is where services like Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and StumbleUpon will strive to make advancements. Social media needs sharing to contribute to the viral factor that the services rely on to gain new users, and users need sharing to prove their ability to find the good content.
Related to sharing is something I call social media visibility. This is what social media does to promote activity. You may have heard the “Hey, they put a Facebook in my Facebook!” joke that gets to the heart of this. The actions of both users and content will be more visible on social sites, but I’d also like to see visibility outside of the social networking sites.
Mobile computing is the future. Desktops aren’t going away, but people are shifting how much time they spend computing at a desk versus computing in planes, trains, and automobiles. Smartphones are now issued as free phones when you sign up for a new wireless contract. Mobile tags haven’t really taken off, but I think we’re more likely to see augmented reality step in and fill that void. Apps will become smart enough to know what you’re interested in when you point your camera at a billboard or product manual.
From Something to Do to Something That Is
Social media is additive. How often do you friend or follow somebody versus how often you unfriend or unfollow people? Exactly. I feel it too. I work on social media every day for clients, but even though I only have 500 people I follow on my personal account, I still don’t have time to have a meaningful social relationship with all of them. There just isn’t time.
Right now, social media is in between something that you do and something that is. If I want to share a photo from my phone, I have to go to “Share” and then tell it to upload to the service of my choice. I know you can adjust settings to make this automatic, but by default, it isn’t. I also have to go to my Twitter app and scroll through the tweets to find the ones that are important. It isn’t that I’m too good to do either of these, but because social media is additive, the time I have to devote to each of these activities becomes scarcer and scarcer.
I think social media is moving toward surfacing more pertinent content. Facebook has made some changes that reflect this, but as these services mature, we’re going to need this feature more and more. In order for most users to use a social media service, they have to find the service fast and easy to use.
I’d love to hear how you think social media will develop next year. Feel free to complete this sentence in the comments: “In 2012, social media will….”