The future of social media and the undying tyranny of baconcats
Don’t be alarmed by this title, rest assured, baconcats will not harm you during this read.
The power of social media is undeniably strong. Job titles have changed, discussions and activism awareness has dramatically increased, people and brands can share their personal side – our lifestyles have altered because of social media.
Will the future of social media involve devices that track, record, and analyze every single unique experience? Possibly…
But let’s look at how far we’ve come.
The following practices and industries have transformed/evolved because of social media.
- Demand for faster information, faster reporting, faster facts
- Speaking of facts, you better have your facts straight or face the wrath of a digital pitchfork mob
- Collaborative Reporting
- Personalized news reading:
- Relevancy and timing is crucial to engagement and exposure
- Individuals gain more power and influence (think “industry experts/gurus” – any type of authority)
- There are a million ways to communicate with each other online
- There is no “best” way
- Impatience: our reliance on instant communication (We actually get upset when a page takes 5 extra seconds to load or when our phones take a few seconds longer to send a text message)
- Social validation is a key player (We can look up social profiles and validate users based on our research)
- Also, people seek to surpass thresholds of shares and comments when they post content
- The need to “impress” vs. “express”
- Impress: people feel obligated to impress others with their roles, experience, results, achievements, etc…
- Express: people simply share what they want to share, regardless of who is listening
- Community: The glory of the tribes: niche communities are the foundation of many new apps, sites, and digital products
- Activism: Signing online petitions such as ‘Stop SOPA, building wildfire awareness about issues (can backfire ie; KONY), rallying people to mass email leaders around the world (Amnesty International)
- Ever evolving
- Currently popular content types
- videos, memes, photography, infographics, in-depth articles, advanced guides/tutorials, webinars, whitepapers, contests/giveaways
- “Timeless” or “Evergreen” content is still one of the most valuable forms
- Content life-cycle is generally extremely short (one day, or even, one morning something is hot, then after a few hours something else is)
- The goals of content: to engage readers, to influence purchases, to increase viral potential
- Social media is, quite simply, stuff people like to talk about and share.
- Content is pieced together from various Internet elements (reputable sources, interviews, scholarly articles, news publications)
- Education; specifically programming, web design, and blogging – These have all been growing community sites specializing in tutorials for the past 5-6 years. (Think Code Academy, Code School, Stack Overflow, TreeHouse, and every blogger claiming to make you “$1-5k per month”)
- Quite arguably the most influential and transformational type of social media content
- Individuals and small teams essentially produce their own TV channels via Youtube channels
- Netflix, Hulu, HBO-Go (need I say more?)
- Users influence new video content (See “Awe Me” Youtube channel – “Man at Arms”; they take comment suggestions as the basis for future shows)
- Ads are actually getting clever (finally using memes!)
- Re-targeting (clearly)
- New Advertising devices: Mobile, Tablet, Physical (QR codes – still controversial value)
- New Advertising channels: Reddit, StumbleUpon, Mobile (and the standard: Google, Facebook, Twitter)
- Influence marketing and affiliate marketing are essentially manifestations of advertising
- Social Profile ads and promotion (Think celebrities tweeting about brands/products)
- Social PR stunts (Oreo capitalizing on Reddit)
- Or brands simply creating free social network accounts, and then spending time/resources to market and promote effectively
- Internet of Things
- Alternate payment methods: “pay with a tweet, like, share” (also, cryptocurrencies like bitcoins are a thing)
- SaaS is hot
- PaaS is hot
- People buy products their friends share and reccommend (which is as easy as 1-click)
- Online stores are socially integrated
- Reviews and ratings are another key purchase influencer (the other KPI -.- )
- Shut up and take my money – a great way to increase sales (or find awesome stuff) 😀
- Everything is data driven: we have deep access to everything users itneract with on our sites (eye-tracking software, A/B testing, analytics and insights)
- Virtual products have value still? Yep. People still dish out hundreds (mostly in games) for virtual products (a virtual currency).
- Game systems evolving: both mainstream and opensource (OUYA)
- Casual Gamer Platforms: Mobile and Tablet
- Revenue models such as “pay to win” (controversial issue with gaming community)
- Social integration via Facebook games and Apps that connect with our friends
- Virtual products are still powering revenue streams
- Mainstream professional gaming IS here. It was always growing in size, but it is now exposed to people outside of the global MLG community.
- Crowdfunding!! One word: Kickstarter.
- Social payments platforms, donations, and tip-plugin integration
- Fundraising campaigns can be viral social media content
- Videos are the primary way to convey a problem and the solutions via fundrasing
- Yes, funraising.
- Entertainment social media is the most popular type
- Think of all the sites that have created a business around memes, humour, and entertainment (TFM, funnyordie, icanhazcheezburger, every YouTube celeb from Smosh to Ryan Higa)
- We (millennials) generally share content that is ‘fun’.
- Freelance Movement! (sites: freelancer, 99designs, odesk, guru, etc…)
- Craigslist isn’t going anywhere (loads of people still find odd-jobs and quick work )
- Higher value placed on our independent skills with online portfolios (show the world your individual work, prove your worth)
- Charge your own price
- Competitive environment increased, but loads of computer-related jobs (programming, design, digital marketing, social media management)
Interesting…but I still don’t get the baconcats thing.
Look. Run a search for bacon. Run a search for cats.
The internet is ruled by cats and bacon, plain and simple.
I know it sounds absurd, but it’s the unsettling (settling for some!) truth.
But we can live in harmony with baconcats. Yes, they have the lion-share of social media, but we can slowly pick some away.
Keep creating quality content (limit your baconcat references, unlike me).
Focus on fostering communities that operate like StackOverflow. Why? Because they have successfully removed all bacon and cats. Yes, it’s a strict programming Q/A site, but if we create communities that a have a specific goal (not pure entertainment), we can create higher values – without upsetting the baconcat kings and queens.
10 year flashback
Remember Napster? Limewire? Sharebear? Ares? (I think Ares is still kickin’) The more popular method these days is to become a swashbuckler (poor pirate joke) on PirateBay.
The controversy surrounding P2P sharing has remained a hot topic ever since their inception.
- It’s morally wrong to walk into a Blockbuster (R.I.P.) and thieve five DVDs.
- It’s morally wrong to bring a video-camera into a movie theater to create a bootleg for P2P sharing.
Then there’s the other end; enjoying the result of a media thief by downloading music, movies, e-books, and photos without paying for them.
If you’re a millennial in America, I can say with 99.9% accuracy, you have “partook” in illegal P2P sharing at some point in your teen years.
And there’s nothing wrong with that.
We grew up with the dot-com boom. The internet was a luxury, a place to play 2d, 3-pixel, flash games, write a 90s blog (xanga anyone?), share links to our favorite sites on AIM…
Think about it like this:
We grew up P2P sharing thinking it was OK – almost natural, because everyone else was doing it.
But the internet has matured and so have we.
Legal P2P Sharing
Media (and music especially) has rolled with the punches of illegal P2P sharing, trying new ways to offer products and still earn some sales.
A lot of media will be offered free or discounted initially as a primary funnel path to future sales, brand loyalty, and subscriptions.
We share personalized media such as our favorite playlists, photo galleries, sites, games, etc…
The overwhelming amount of sites that cater to our niche interests keep us engaged online enough that we generally haven’t a need to consider illegal P2P sharing.
We get wrapped up in forum discussions, YouTube videos, and social network chats. The topics (the discussion and content topics) are what makes media social, worth talking about, and thus, worth sharing.
New and emerging websites are constantly trying to personalize our social media; giving us the tools to create an individualized content experience.
I think this is a progressive shift, but I don’t think these sites will be “the next Facebook” or “the next Youtube”.
Video feels like it has the biggest potential to evolve further. I think the future of video will involve a site that:
- lets us pick and subscribe to specific shows and YouTube channels
- create our own “stations” that can be shared with others
- influence new video content via comments and forums
Some other future of social media predictions:
- Privacy will always be a hot, controversial topic and core factor of social network success
- Everything we do (getting dinner with friends, acing a test, playing a pick-up game) will be highly sought information
- As personalization increases, so does the need to cater to our personalizations
- Imagine if we could upvote and downvote every single thing we experience. That information has value with a dollar sign.
- A nomadic, anti-future-social-media group of 90s nostalgia media and gadget lovers will travel the lands preaching the good word of N64, gameboys, and original Pokemon, living on nothing but Surge.
Social media feels like one big checklist
- Business-turned platforms (LinkedIn) are necessary for jobs
- Social platforms (Facebook/Twitter) are a necessary social standard for friends
- Alternative social platforms strive to remove the business-ad-spammy feel of Facebook – ie; Reddit/StumbleUpon – so they are more attractive for entertainment and socializing
The goal of future social media is to get on our checklist, you know, we have to think, “Hmm, I haven’t gone on Reddit today” *opens AlienBlue…2 hrs vanish…*
Also, accessibility is going to be a key player in future social media sharing.
As Steven Ballmer (CEO, Microsoft) has said, “Accessible design is good design.”
Things that make us think, cheer us up, make us laugh, listen, frustrated, inspired – anything that captures our attention and makes us stop whatever we were doing, has the potential for success.
Thanks for reading!
P.S. – I know I covered a lot of topics and jumped around! Hopefully I struck some chords 😀
What are your thoughts on the future of social media and how we’ll share and engage this content?