A surge in the adoption of social media by consumers and businesses has given rise to new business dynamics and the landscape is continuously evolving. The recent launch of Google+ has generated a lot of social buzz and sparked some new ideas, for example, Michael Dell (CEO of Dell Inc.) expressed his interest in exploring Google+ Hangout for real-time customer support.
I think it’s fascinating to try to look into the future and discuss how social media channels/platforms might evolve in the next 5 years or so. For simplicity, let’s label this future social media era as Social Media 2.0! Before we do some time travel into the future, here is a quick disclaimer: the following ideas are based on my personal perspective only. That being said, let’s jump into the fun part!
Social Media 2.0 will be highly actionable
Consider the following scenario to understand what I mean by “highly actionable”. Let’s say my friend posted a picture of his/her vacation on Facebook or Google+. I come across the post, and I like the vacation spot so much that I want to consider it for my own vacation next month. However, there aren’t many actions I can take besides clicking on the ‘Like’ button or adding a comment on that post. The following visualization depicts this limited experience:
Here is what I would like to see the Social Media 2.0 era offer
I can hover my mouse over my friend’s vacation pictures and see flight and hotel rates available for that location. It should also suggest other places that are similar to the location shown in the pictures. Finally, Social Media 2.0 will help me to take the final step by allowing me to book a flight and hotel without leaving the social environment I’m in. The following visualization shows this end-to-end experience which is currently missing:
The same concept can be leveraged for products as well. For example, if someone tweets that they bought a new television, then Social Media 2.0 should allow me to hover my mouse over the product name to get reviews, pricing, comparisons to similar products, and the ability to purchase the product there and then.
These features will make social media “highly actionable” as it helps you to discover new interests or recommendations based on your social graph and then take further action.
Social Media 2.0 will be intelligent enough to be contextual and relevant
The current social media experience is a little bit muddled and thus, I envision that Social Media 2.0 will be highly contextual providing a muddle-free experience!
Here is an example to illustrate my point — let’s say that I follow Jeremiah Owyang on Twitter. The majority of things that Jeremiah tweets about are of interest to me but he may also tweet about things that are not relevant to me.
So here is what I think Social Media 2.0 will do for me — it will feed only a relevant stream of information by filtering out irrelevant artifacts based on my “Social Graph”. Furthermore, social media 2.0 platforms will learn about my social graph based on my activities and will deliver more relevant information to me providing a muddle-free experience. I believe that this functionality can be achieved by combining services such as Google Sparks and Google Circles, where even if you follow someone you will only see updates from this person that are most relevant to you.
There are many possibilities and ways in which social media can evolve. I’d love to hear your ideas and predictions on where social media will be in the next 5 years. So, please jump in and share your thoughts!