Social Media’s Big, Grown Up Future

Social Media’s Big, Grown Up Future

2016 is, allegedly, a breakthrough year for social media. We’ve seen more activity on social media sites than ever before. And now the technology is even influencing the course of democracy itself. Just look at how Donald Trump has used it to his advantage over the last 14 months or so.

Social media has already gone well beyond its original intention. It started as a way for university students to chat to each other on US campuses. It’s telling that we rarely talk about this application anymore. Now everybody’s fired up about its marketing potential and political clout.

What’s more, there’s no reason to believe that progress in the area has hit a brick wall. Far from it: many of today’s social media companies are leaders in innovation. Investors might ask themselves, what does the future hold for the industry?

Virtual Reality

Recently, Money Morning reported that Facebook stocks were up more than 15 percent since January. Commentators argue that the increase isn’t being driven by the company’s old business model. It’s being propelled by new technologies. One of those technologies is VR. Facebook bought the virtual reality company, Oculus back in 2014 for $2 billion. Since then, Mark Zuckerberg has been touting VR as the next big thing in social media. According to analysts, the VR market is set to generate $30 billion by 2020. That’s a lot, considering it was only back in May that we got the first proper VR headset.

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No doubt valuations for VR will go higher now that Pokemon Go has arrived. Although Pokemon Go isn’t a VR game, it’s proof that augmented reality is something the masses want. We now have a working model of augmented reality mixed with social. It’s only a matter of time before there’s an application in the social media space.

Decision Making Power From Data

We’ve already seen some examples of social media using its data gathering skills for the common good. Back in 2014, Facebook released its Safety Check feature. The feature was designed to tell loved ones whether they were safe or not during a disaster. Since then, there have been a lot of disasters, and Safety Check has been put to good use. It was first used in the Nepal Earthquake last year. And since then it has been used in all the terrorist atrocities in Europe.

But in the future, data can be used for more than that. Take the recent Zika virus outbreak in Florida. Here is a great example where governments could use Facebook data to help combat disease. If users have location turned on, outbreaks can be tracked geographically. And that information could be used to track down the source.

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Companies are going to benefit from data too. They’re going to be able to make decisions on how to market. If companies are able to collect data on what’s trending right now, they can customize their marketing accordingly.

Social Media: The New Skype

It seems strange that we have separate apps for posting pictures and having conversations. We use social media for the former and video chat apps, like Skype, for the latter. But why is that? It’s mainly down to the fact that Skype managed to get into the video-chat space first, and social media hasn’t caught up. Well, until now that is.

In 2016, live video went mainstream. Blab, Periscope, and Meerkat all went big and hit the primetime. Even Google moved to give Hangouts a video function. And this all makes sense. Video calling is fundamentally a social act. And so it should be merged with social media.

Facebook, of course, is on the case. As the world’s biggest social media site, it should be. Facebook wants to make sure that live video streaming is something that everybody does. They don’t want it to be the preserve of businesses and video marketers. They want to take on the likes of Periscope and make live streaming bigger than it already is.

 

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Plus, you can see the appeal of live streaming. One of the limitations of the original Facebook model was that you couldn’t broadcast your life in real time. But with the success of shows like Big Brother, there certainly is a market for it. Marketers on YouNow have discovered that social media users will actually pay to watch live streams. They’ll watch anything, from people sleeping, dancing and singing.

Social At Work

We all know how social media has found its way into our offices. But it’s never been seen as a part of work. It’s something that most employers discourage. And it’s something bloggers constantly tell us is a waste of time.

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But now there’s change afoot. No, your favorite social media sites aren’t going to be unblocked by the company firewall. But you may get some new, work-related social apps. One app, called Slack, is doing the rounds right now. It’s an app that allows users to share information, gifs, and PDFs. Facebook has also tried to get into the space. It’s launched its new Facebook for Work, which sounds utterly boring. But it’s designed to separate the business from the social since social media is now such an important part of business.

Machine Learning

Silicon Valley is obsessed with machine learning at the moment. It’s become the new Big Data. (In fact, it uses Big Data). And it’s being put to use on social media. Forevery, for instance, has developed a new technology that automatically classifies your camera roll. All you do is download the app, and then it will organize photos according to the people in the images, where they were taken, etc. It’s an example of just how much easier tech will make our lives.

Facebook too will move to tag you and your friends automatically in photos. We’ve had face recognition technology for a while now. But we’re moving into a different era. Now machine learning is so good it can tell who you are without even looking at your face. It can recognize you from other characteristics.