Past And Future Predictions For Social Media
In 1916, comedian Charlie Chaplin predicted, “The cinema is little more than a fad.” Five years later, American radio and television pioneer David Sarnoff stated a “wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value.” Just over half-a-century later, Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) founder and president Ken Oslon believed “there is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.”
Consumers today enjoy movies, wireless technology and smart phones that can do things computers can do but so much more. It’s not surprising predictions about technology sometimes miss the mark. Anticipation and expectations about social media have too fallen victim to overzealous predictions. Take for example MySpace.
From 2005 until 2008, MySpace was the most popular social networking site in the world and at its peak was worth a staggering $12 billion. Everyone believed MySpace was the untouchable and unstoppable juggernaut. Hollywood even got into the act with the first Iron Man movie where Tony Stark agrees to having a soldier take his picture but deadpans he does not want to see that picture on someone’s MySpace page. By the time the movie was released in 2008, however, FaceBook had surpassed Myspace in Alexa rankings and MySpace membership has been declining ever since.
Google had two new initiatives that were predicted to shake Facebook’s hold on social media: Google Buzz, a social networking, microblogging and messaging tool that integrated into Gmail, and Google Wave, a software framework for real-time collaborative editing online. Both failed, the former discontinued on December 15, 2011 and the latter being picked up by the Apache Software Foundation’s and reborn as Apache Wave.
The investment of marketing effort into wikis and corporate blogs as an attempt to get their customer base informed about their products and services has not taken off as hoped. While corporate blogs and wikis may provide interesting information about the development and history of company products and services, customers are more interested in real-time responses to inquiries about why that product or service is not working as expected, or even why that product or service is worth investing hard-earned dollars to buy them.
To wrap up the list, QR codes — used as a tool to effortlessly advertise product information without the need to open a browser and enter in a URL link, thus increasing the conversion rate (the chance that advertising will convert to a sale) — did not catch on as expected, ironically for the same reason why the QR code was considered: ease of use. Most smart-phone users did not realize a third party scanning app was required to read the code, and so didn’t want to download and install the app because it was considered too time-consuming.
Nevertheless, social media marketing is still a valuable tool for businesses and there are new indicators on the horizon — very well, predictions — that could reshape the future of this information sharing and exchange medium.
To begin, companies will soon stop attempting to block employees from using social media applications like Twitter and Facebook and instead have them used as valuable productivity tools. On the cusp of this is Facebook for Work, which allows co-workers to use features and tools already familiar to Facebook users to share and collaborate company data, but separate from a personal account.
While Google Hangouts pioneered the use of live-video streaming to share information, applications such as Blab, Snapchat, Meerkat, and Periscope promise to refine and perfect the next stage of social media’s evolution — information being disseminated and shared through imagery instead of typing text and inserting icons.
A growing concern is the permanence of data through social media, or that old saying that the Internet never forgets: what content you share tends to stay there. Prospective jobseekers or just anyone who doesn’t want that embarrassing bar photo or bachelor/bachelorette party video to surface at an inappropriate time are calling for time-limited posts that disappear after a specified duration. The aforementioned Snapchat has such a feature and it shouldn’t be become a surprise if other social media applications quickly adopt a feature that has been a long time coming.
Social media will have an even greater impact in our real-time activities. For example, we could use our Facebook Connect or Google account to make hotel, airline, or rent-a-car reservations, while serving up tourist itineraries based on your social interests as defined by your online profile?
Finally, expect virtual reality viewers like Oculus Rift and augmented reality glasses like Google Glass to enable our eyes — perfectly designed to take in and process visual information — to serve as the next-stage interface for social media navigation. Users will view public profiles and information and news about company product and services through wearable displays instead of reading them on a computer, phone, or tablet screen.