Social media, in a nutshell, is comprised of all of the websites and applications that people use everyday to communicate, share ideas, opinions, information, etc. It is constantly evolving and newer offerings arrive regularly to compete with the current market leaders. Facebook, the social networking giant, Instagram the photo sharing site, Twitter, the brief blogging site, and video sharing site YouTube are the ones that easily come to mind but there are so many others out there seeking to fill the needs of the online community. In this blog post, I am going to explain my thoughts on the what I believe social media will be like in the near future.
It is sometimes hard to keep up with all the different sites available. I’m sure I have accounts on pages that I’ve only been to a couple of times years ago.
Like some of you reading this, my experience with social media started with a website called Myspace. It was a good way to stay in touch with friends, make new friends and share pictures of your everyday life. I thought that it was the perfect site until I discovered Facebook. Facebook made it easy to find friends and family, play online games and, based on my interests, get offers from companies about different products and services that I might be interested in. Many of my friends on MySpace had already moved on to Facebook and it was the logical move to abandon my MySpace account and create a profile on Facebook. Since then, I can’t tell you how many social media sites I have tried out. I’m sure I have accounts on long forgotten pages that I only visited a couple of times years ago. You try them out to see if they do what you need them to do. Will this site be easier to navigate? Will my pictures load quickly and will my news feed show me everything I’m interested in reading on this site? Will my message reach the right audience? Right now, there isn’t really any other site that meets my needs like Facebook so I will be staying with them for the foreseeable future. In a few years, it wouldn’t surprise me if some new site were to come along and give Facebook some serious competition. Then you would see everyone moving their profiles to that site.
Over the years, to remain the top social networking site, Facebook has constantly monitored what its users are interested in as well as internet trends so that it can evolve to retain and grow its following. Part of their strategy is to acquire other social media sites and companies that it sees as a good fit for their brand. These ‘acquisitions have been key to Facebook’s growth and success, and the company has acquired more than 50 companies or properties since it’s formation in 2004. These takeovers have been aimed at increasing Facebook’s functionality and features as well as gaining access to talented individuals and teams.’ (Hayes, 2015)
I think it is safe to say that technology will play a huge part in how social media evolves. Currently, sites like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube are allowing its users to live stream their experiences through the cameras on their cell phones. You can use sites like Google+ to video chat with groups of friends using your webcam. This was not always the case. These sites are adapting their products to work with the latest gadgets, in order to build and retain their customer base.
One technology that has been around for a while but is only recently at a point where it can be applied commercially is virtual reality and augmented reality. ‘Virtual reality refers to computer-generated environments or realities that are designed to simulate a person’s physical presence in a specific environment that is designed to feel real.'(techopedia.com) Imagine putting on a virtual reality headset and ‘going out’ to the movies in a virtual theater with friends who live states away or virtually touring a museum in another country you would might never get a chance to see in real life. Virtual reality has a huge potential for social media sites.
I believe, as the technology progresses, a good portion of these social media sites will begin focusing on integrating these features into our social networking experiences. In the last few years, there have been significant advances in virtual and augmented reality devices. In 2013, Google had developed a wearable headset called Google Glass that projects images onto the wearer’s eye so that they are still able to see the world around them and do regular everyday offline tasks and still connect to social media tasks like check their e-mails, chat online, look up information hands-free. These augmented reality glasses did not catch on with customers and were discontinued in 2015.(2017) Other companies still see the potential for this type of technology and various projects are still being researched and developed. Companies such as Microsoft will soon be releasing Microsoft’s HoloLens project. One of Facebook’s acquisitions, Oculus VR has developed the VR headset Oculus Rift.
There is no real way to tell exactly how social media will change in the future. I think the best way to get a sense of it will be to keep an eye on what the latest tech gadgets are capable of and I am pretty sure you will see social media sites start creating apps to integrate these features.
Augmented Reality and VR headsets like the Microsoft Hololens may change the way we use social media and interact with each other. (Picture from Flickr.com)
Hayes, C. A. (2015, February 11). Facebook’s Most Important Acquisitions. Retrieved from http://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/021115/facebooks-most-important-acquisitions.asp
Google Glass. (2017, March 18). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Glass