To think that social media is only about two decades old. Heck Facebook – which might not have been the first but certainly had the greatest impact – was founded 13 years ago in 2004. And look at the change we’ve already experienced. Already, the president of the United States uses it as the primary platform with which he engages with his followers and even announces a policy on such a platform.
With change coming so quickly, what will the next five years hold? Where will social media go next? Has it already matured or will we see a further evolution as it is transformed yet again? To explore that issue, here are some of the big predictions for the next five years.
The impact of generation Z
We’ve spent a lot of time talking about millennials and how different they are because of technology. But in truth, we ain’t seen nothing yet. For while Millennials might have been introduced early to such technologies as Facebook and Twitter, generation Z was born into them. Their brains were forming even as we exposed them to the quick dopamine fix that social media offers. In other words, we’re running a huge experiment on our children and none of us can be sure of the consequences.
Naturally, this will heavily affect the next iteration of social media. It will move from something we did next to live, to something through which we organized life, to something which is the equivalent of life. People will no longer rebel by listening to different bands, but by going onto different social media platforms.
We will even see the further integration of physical and digital reality, as such platforms as ‘house party’ where people in different parts of the world can hang out together.
The integration of television and social media
Watching television programs and movies has always been a social activity. Sure, you might do it alone, but then you gossip and chat about it together. We did that in person, but then social media made it far easier to share our opinions and ideas instantly.
But why stop there? Already we can directly comment on YouTube and other video channels. Now, with the rise of Netflix and other providers like it, it will only be a matter of time before we can link straight to them in social media platforms and watch our favorite shows right there and then (with a subscription of course). Then we can comment with our family and friends even as we watch our favorite show together (but apart).
They will be regulated
The Wild West days of the internet are over. The Russian meddling scandal made sure of that. Now social media platforms will start self-regulating (or be regulated) more and more, thereby restricting what is ‘fake news’ and what is not. Of course, the big problem with this is that one person’s real news is another’s fake news. So there will be some interesting years ahead where people will try to politicize this process heavily.
What will the consequences thereof be? That’s always hard to tell. Obviously, the big social media platforms (especially Facebook) are incredibly jealous of guarding their sovereignty and will not like to be meddled with. The problem with that is that this might actually back fire, with regulators deciding that their reticence means they have to be regulated more heavily.
However that ends up, you can be sure that there will be more labels on what we’ll see in the future, including who produced what and what they paid to do so. Only time will tell.
The death of organic growth
Sure, it’s already on a respirator. But it isn’t quite dead yet. Still, it won’t be long. Already, Facebook is running experiments where they put sites and pages which don’t pay on a different wall than your friends and paid advertisements. This led to a 60 to 80% fall in traffic to these sites.
And though they said they currently have no plans to run that experiment out globally, of course they secretly do. Otherwise, why did they run the experiment to begin with? Deep down social media doesn’t like organic growth because it means they’re not making any money.
So they will slowly turn the tap closed till the only way you can get noticed is when you’re willing to pay for it.
Influencer marketing is still in its baby shoes. We’re going to see some real innovations in the years to come as to how people will market products using the people we look up to. Already we’ve heard about micro-influencers, but really that’s only the tip of the iceberg. As companies become better and better at targeting people and knowing who to reach out to, they’ll push this type of industry into high gear.
They’ll be able to approach influential people individually, make them feel special through giveaways and similar strategies, and then rely on those people to send out the message how cool a company is. And, as this does not run foul of any advertising laws (as those people aren’t advertising but instead just sharing their good fortune) they’ll be able to get away with it.
All they’ll need to do is figure out who has the larger networks. And that will be easier and easier with our dissertation writing services current growing understanding of how social groups work.
Where will the internet be five years from now? It’s an interesting question. I think none of us can really know. Things are moving quickly and they’re often shooting off in directions that we can’t yet imagine, as we encounter new inventions and new ideas.
We’ll probably see further integration between the real world and the cyber world (to where that distinction becomes meaningless) and that will obviously create all sorts of interesting consequences for social media and society as well.