Karl Young predicts what the future of social media will look like in the next two years...
It is hard to believe that only 32.77 percent of the world’s population has regular access to the internet. Considering that ten years ago only 12.5 percent were online, a lot has changed and it is reflecting in our day-to-day activities.
In the age of mobile technology, social media has become much more than a platform for basic communication; it has become ingrained into users’ everyday lives. People are online at all hours of the day, and with social media becoming the last thing people check before they go to bed and the first thing they check when they wake up, it has become a powerful force.
Users are sharing breaking news, stories, experiences, reviews, photos and videos more frequently and faster than ever before – with over 100 hours of video footage loaded onto YouTube every minute its clear to see that we have not only grown to adore the power of the internet but it has been integrated into our buyer behaviour, making it a powerful tool for brands and businesses.
The boom is not yet over, in this year alone China is predicted to see a 140 million rise in internet users, triggering great e-commerce growth and users on social platforms. Recently China leapfrogged America to become the biggest trading nation in the world. As economies evolve and populations keep rising, living standards and access to the World Wide Web should inevitably increase. With this in mind, social media will receive an increased amount of visitor’s year on year.
What does that mean for existing users and how will it evolve to cope with increased demand and cultural differences and sensitivities?
The way we search and access information is constantly changing, search engine algorithms provide the most relevant searches for queries based on complex mathematical equations. Google, Baidu and Yandex are three of the biggest search engines in the world, the way they enable us to search directly effects social media.
Google regularly alters its algorithms, changing the way we search and filtering out old/bad results. The Penguin and Panda updates released by Google penalised website for having too many links with aggressive exact match anchor text, duplicate content, keyword stuffing and more.
So why is this relevant to social? Social media is one of the factors Google takes into consideration when ranking a website in the search engine results page. If a website like ‘hotcrossbunsandjam.co.uk’ had the same seo profile as ‘hotcrossbunsandchocolate.co.uk’ but one had more interaction with social media, Google would take preference on the website that has made the effort socially.
With that in mind, it isn’t hard to imagination that Google might be planning an algorithm update around bad social media practices. As social media is becoming an ever increasing factor in rankings, we could see something put in place by 2015 to stop businesses buying Facebook ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ to increase their social profile.
Black-hat tricks that increase a business’s social score probably won’t be the only thing to be hit, unnatural shares may be targeted to stop spammers from pushing out the same messages via different accounts across medias.
Having a cleaner and spam free social platform should help businesses and user experience improve significantly.
Diversification & Features
As more cultures dive onto the Worldwide Web we could see social platforms change the way users interact based on laws and preferences in different counties. A great example of this is in Japan where Twitter added a new feature called ‘lifeline’. Japan was the first region in the world to receive a service that suggests which official government Twitter accounts should be followed if a disaster hits. The idea was sprung after last year’s earthquake and Tsunami, proving that features for different cultures will become more prevalent in social media by 2015.
As the big social media platforms become more and more popular around the world we could start to see different services appearing, like Facebook’s business networking features in Japan. LinkedIn in the country has been unable to grab a foothold on the business community. Facebook however has become the preferred social network among job hunters and university graduates.
With opportunities around the world for social sites to gain ground in current or new areas of communication, it’s likely that media which takes risks in expansion will benefit greatly as countries establish their online communities. In India and Brazil, opportunities for social networks to monopolise the emerging markets can’t be ignored.
One change that could enhance Twitter and Facebook is the introduction of ‘tribes’. As social media is one of the biggest ways we consume news, often the first place we go to consume it, the development of tribes could help users control their news feeds. Google+ has led the way in terms of grouping contacts, Facebook and Twitter could help users divide friends, colleagues and acquaintances. Streamlining feeds could provide greater social interactions.
By 2015 social users could be given more access to their preferences, not only within their news feeds or social groups but with themes, features and apps. Bridging the gap between having a blog and a social media account could provide businesses and regular users with a greater experience, giving them the power to add personal touches to their accounts.
Facebook could constantly display news in a separate feed from feeds we have an interest in, like sport or music.
Bringing in better integration between social media and other websites could help businesses attract customers towards their products/services and offer users smarter and more update information.
Unlocking social media dashboards could be the key to better usability; however for such a large audience could it be achieved? MySpace offers profiles that are compatible to your pretences, giving you the ability to change the look and feature on a single page. Did we get bored of the platform or personalising our preferences?
Either way it’s foreseeable that Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn could be looking at Myspace as a way of moving forward into 2015.
This article first appeared on http://www.searchlaboratory.com/multilingual-search/
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