We live in an increasingly rapid world. Everything changes in what feels like the blink of an eye. The “New York Minute” is now the “American Minute.” We can get tweets, status updates, pins on Pinterest, questions on Quora, and the whole shebang in mere seconds from wherever we happen to be. Wifi is common in most restaurants, malls, and businesses that require any form of wait. The internet is literally always at our fingertips. iPhones and Androids make it easy to do everything we used to need a computer for. However, this raises a question for the near future and for the long term: what is the future of this social media thing?
Right now, Facebook is the reigning champion of the catch-all social network. The synchronous friendship system—the reciprocity and interactivity the medium provides—is a great general purpose tool. Setting social calendars, writing journals, and sharing copious amounts of cat pictures is as easy as a few buttons, regardless of device. However, there’s been talk of its decline. Everyone old enough to remember MySpace remembers the fall it took. But, if Facebook isn’t the lasting system, what is?
The Specialized Network
As I mentioned before, Facebook is a great catch-all, jack-of-all-trades network. You can play games, keep up with friends and family, manage a social calendar, and keep up with friends. However, the old adage about a jack of all trades is that it’s a master of none. Facebook does everything well enough to be successful. However, it’s not great at anything. It’s the best we have, but there are so many ways to improve it. For their news sharing ability, Reddit has them beat with a full voting and common comment system for wider distribution. Facebook limits it to shares and posts—which means it only hits certain circles. Their distribution is limited unless you pay for placement—great for them, but bad for you. Most users have a negative knee-jerk reaction against sponsored posts. You’re better finding people to share your content as it gets you better exposure—an extremely unpredictable path to take.
In contrast, Twitter and Quora (among many, many others) create a specialized network or a place to create a specialized subnetwork where anyone can join in the fun. They only have one purpose, which they do well. Twitter serves as a shortform service to provide rapid updates, easily digestible in a few moments. The nature of the service is asynchronous (meaning that you can follow someone without their approval). Quora allows for experts to answer questions that people might have in that same asynchronous fashion. This means that you can receive more information from more sources with less user input required from either party. This makes it easier and faster to use with a wider distribution.
The Death Of Facebook
There’s also been talk of the death of Facebook. Well, that’s not quite true. Facebook “killed” MySpace, but MySpace still fills a niche need itself: music. Facebook’s not going away, but you must realize that Facebook is currently on a decline. With the amount of marketing material and other bloat that Facebook users have to see on a daily basis, it will subside and smaller, more niche networks will rise to take its place. That’s why you should be browsing these places now to find your fit. Are you (or your business) considered an expert on a topic? You should probably have a Quora account. Are you an extremely local business that needs heavy Google integration? Google+ is your place—especially considering that their local listings on their searches require a Google+ Local account now. Do you depend on visuals for your business? (Clothing companies, retailers selling physical goods, and artists, for instance?) You have your choice of Tumblr, Instagram [iOS, Android], or Pinterest—depending on your market. There are so many networks with so little time, and with as many of them on the rise as there are, it’s better to make strategic decisions now rather than blanket them and hope something sticks.
This is key. We live in an increasingly mobile world. Smartphones are becoming the default options for all carriers. People are on the go and don’t have time to browse through your site looking for what they need. If you want any form of success, either with Social Media presence or with your personal website, you need to pick ones that are extremely mobile. Twitter and Instagram are two that immediately pop into mind. In fact, Instagram is mobile only. If you want to be seen, you need to be on the devices that people use. That’s not necessarily a desktop or laptop anymore.
What I’m trying to tell you here is that the future of social media is incredibly unclear. Facebook will remain the reigning champion for a few years yet. While their feature set is becoming less and less impressive, they’re still the best catch-all network out there. Unless one of the other networks inserts itself into the market as successfully as Facebook has, expect to be doing a lot of marketing there. However, you need to be focused on the future. Get your mobile site and your mobile social networks in order. Find the best outlets for your information—where your content and information is appreciated. Don’t waste your time or money. With the amount of outlets that exist now, you can’t afford to blanket everything with your content. There just isn’t enough time. If you need help with your marketing efforts—including your social media outreach—we’re here to assist. Shoot us an email—we’ll be happy to assist!