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Social Media 2.0 – Future of Social Media Platforms

August 19, 2011 - 26 Comments

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!

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  1. I totally agree with you that social media is going the way you see it and it has been playing an important role in marketing businesses.

  2. Well i agree with your points Sushant. Google + has brought innovation to the social media platform. I heard Microsoft is also ready to launch their social network filled with more innovative features very soon. I also think in future the business deals will start to be done on social networks but we need legislation to prevent fraud because hackers can very easily dodge big corporations and may cause them monetary loss

    • I guess Microsoft social network will be a big fail as Google's one. Facebook is still on top and i don't think has a good competitor at this moment.

  3. I think social media's will become a defacto part of internet marketing and be required for a business to function in society. But the social media that we see today won't be the social media of the future. Today's social media struggles with privacy concerns and is now seen as a possible threat to governments. But it's destruction because of these I don't see happening. I think instead society's view is changing and the younger generations will grow up expecting little privacy and more transparency from businesses and governments.

  4. Interesting post, as a thought, will this enable people within Facebook etc to signup to advertise the products or services they are recommending, or will the social media platforms themselves be sifting through and adding the relevant tags to monitor their advertising revenue? If this instant information platform were to come in, would it desensitise us to advertising, through information overload?

  5. Social media is moving so fast! I remember when Google was just a baby and now it's struggling to keep up with Facebook et al!! I actually think that Social Media will begin to face bigger and bigger backlashes from the public as breach of privacy becomes more flagrant. There appears to be only lip service paid to privacy controls on most social media platforms and the whole world seems able to find out what everyone else is doing at any moment! The use of social media in controlling the recent riots in London may be the start of the slippery slope. As soon as governments start placing controls on Facebook and Twitter, the end is near!

  6. Hey Sushant, Great article! Loved the "highly actionable" part. But I think there will be concerns regarding the "social graph" part. Firstly, there are people like me and Aubrey who would love to be taken on a wild ride of information and be able to pick what we want to read/surf about. And Secondly, there would be a significant number of people /probable customers, whom we could be driving away just by the idea that someone is looking at what they are surfing on net and filtering the information reaching to them according to what they prefer.

    • Hello Tejal: Thanks for your comment. Regarding your concern about privacy -- I am at Dreamforce, 2011 event and it looks like more people are willing to share their information if they are going to receive an excellent customer experience in return.

  7. If all that you described happens, can we then still call it a social media or will it become say commerce media at this stage? I have been thinking about something my friend said the other day: more services need to be available online because people have less and less time...well if internet offloads us from meeting friends in real life, researching for holiday destination and even tailors the information we are receiving to only relevant pieces, what is that people do with all this extra time? I do like the idea of having easy access to information but i am slightly worried it will kill innovation, imagination, planning and normal human interactions. People used to meet and actually talk about their holiday experiences and exchange good addresses while now they can get all this info with one click... To sum up - great thinking, interesting concept, just hope people will still keep real social skills :)

    • Hello Kasia -- I do see your concern. However, nature of innovation is such that what seems to be disruptive today becomes tomorrow's norm. Not that long ago, people used to drive to a banking center, have 1-1 dialog with a tailor and if you are a valued customer then you may possibly know the branch manager as well. This practice has changed drastically. People can open bank accounts online, deposit checks at off-site ATM machines and now people are using phone app to deposit checks, manage their accounts, etc. I personally haven't gone to a banking center in many years.

  8. I was thinking in your future state, you should also think about the perspective of the merchant. Is there an exchange between the customer and the merchant where they allow the merchant to have some access to their information, which would be a value to them beyond a single sale. This could be opt-in to receive more info, info about your demographics, including location and other likes or interests.

    • Hello Charlie -- You bring up a good point! What you are proposing here will further enhance the capabilities of social media 2.0 platforms to provide highly contextual and relevant information to its user base. Yes, for this to happen users may have to share some information with merchants. Personally, I feel comfortable to share such information if merchants can provide me with deals that I am really interested in. This cuts down my search time, hunting for deals on the Internet.

  9. I Like @snapini

  10. Really interesting... We will see what will happen... until then, I'll keep reading :) Best regards!

  11. It is great idea but again at end of the day who will choose what you see & what you will not see when you move your mouse over the holiday destination?

    • Good point Ryan. I think that such privacy concerns can be alleviated by allowing people to enable or disable social media 2.0 features.

  12. Great Information, keep it coming! Very usefull

  13. Great post, thanks for sharing

  14. Why i feel that social media is going to be saturated soon. Do you have any idea sushant what could be the next big thing for coming 10 years. 5 years ago facebook was miniature,google+ born just now... Please provide your inputs

    • I think that developers have just started to explore this medium. There as many untapped opportunities in this evolving landscape, and some of these are described in my post above. Thanks for your participation.

  15. Good observations, @sahanis. A couple of years ago, I tried to solve the muddle problem by the wrong method: by creating multiple social network accounts. Improvements on the lines of what you have suggested is definitely the right way go.

    • Hello Ramesh: I am glad that you like these ideas and thanks for your comment. Regarding your note about creating duplicate accounts on social networks, I imagine that it probably didn't provide you that muddle free experience.

  16. Interesting ideas - I think that Facebook may have been heading towards what you suggest but then they changed all the app linkages - e.g, Trip Advisor, which made following through more cumbersome. Also I'm not sure about my "social graph" determining what information I receive. I like surprises and being lead down paths of potential new interests that I hadn't considered before.

    • Hello Aubrey, thanks for sharing your thoughts. Regarding your point about receiving surprises -- I agree with you and that's why in my post I wrote that Social Media 2.0 should help us discover new interests or recommendations however, based on our social graph. Think about Social Media 2.0 as your best friend -- who knows what you may be interested in and things that haven't discovered yet. Does this make sense?

  17. Nice thinking! I think social media 2.0 will bring social media more relevant for business interactions, there will be more innovation with heated competition amongst the social networks. Social CRM will become defacto.

    • Hello Sundha, nice to hear from you! You make a very good point. As described in my post once e-commerce gets successfully blended into social platforms there will be competition between different platforms to snatch "user base". We have already started to see some signs!