Although massively popular; Social Media is relatively young technology. Considering Facebook is under 8 years old, 900 million users is a pretty ridiculous amount. But we all know how popular it is, because we all have an account, and so do our friends and family, and pretty much anyone with a smartphone or a computer.
I often think about how social media will be used in the future, so I offer my thoughts here. It'll be interesting to look back at this article and see how wrong I was!
Social Media as a primary communications tool is something which seems to me to be getting more and more evident. As smartphones pretty much dominate the mobile market, it is now affordable for most people to have a device with social networking capabilities, primarily Facebook and Twitter. It often seems easier and more convenient to follow someone on Twitter or add them on Facebook than it does to exchange mobile numbers. I think in the future, Twitter has the potential to be seen as a primary method of communication which we take for granted, much like a text message. This potential is from the fact that Twitter can integrate your contacts interests and favourite brands into one, creating a 'go-to' service when used correctly. If Facebook got their act together with their mobile apps (outside of iOS) then their Messenger could become something useful like Whatsapp is, and again be taken for granted rather than a novelty, but I don't see that happening any time soon...
Social Media shaping traditional news and media is already being seen, and any news and media agencies with a slight bit of sense are allowing people to Tweet their views, have their say on comments sections and interact with live television programs. This can only become more and more of the norm, and Twitter could lead the way in creating a society which is more engaged with local and national issues, having their say through the public social network. But in the long term, I think that this will only fuel more censorship and control from the government and social networks themselves, particularly if Twitter is used to promote negative events such as the London riots. Let's hope I'm wrong.
For business; LinkedIn has a lot of potential. I've found it extremely useful for job hunting and networking. It could become something really special if the majority of businesses saw it as more of an essential business tool than a social network. If LinkedIn can be integrated with tools like Google+ hangouts and Google Docs, whilst utilising their already great tools such as groups and answers; it may just play a big part in the growth of businesses and the development of employee skills and knowledge.
Social Networks with a smaller audience such as Google+, Pinterest and newer networks like Branch have potential, and are often better than Facebook and Twitter (Google+!). However I think they will stay alive with their own communities and loyal users, but will not become much more successful. The sheer amount of people on Facebook and Twitter cannot be ignored, and I often hear friends commenting on joining a new social network as being pointless when so many people use the two most popular so often.
And finally, Social Networks will be used as a main customer service tool. This to me seems obvious, but to many brands it does not. People don't always want to ring an 0800 number and be put through pressing options for 3 minutes just to get an answer to a small query. Social Media can help with these queries, and also promote a good brand image. Social Networks will be seen as an essential part of customer service, and not just an add on for the sake of it.
What do you think? Am I completely off target? It'll be interesting to hear peoples comments and views.