The Future of Social Media

austenm
Austen Mayor President & Founder, SocioCentral™ Online Incorporated

Posted on February 23rd 2011

When the tip of a limb is repeatedly used, it is strengthened for even greater advancements — AMCan we forecast the future of social media? What about going out on a limb to illustrate innovative ways of seeing this field? Chris Brogan just posted “The Future of Media”, but it was not his intention to talk about the future of human connections between those media. In this post, I am going to use a few case studies to point out that right now is the "future" of social media. 

Social Media Pioneers

There have been several examples where companies were not afraid to leverage their own social media platform, but I'll raise a few key case studies here to keep it simple. Dell created ideastorm, which was a relatively pioneering forum where buyers’ feedback eventually reached the customer service department, which in turn improved products, services and consumer satisfaction (This evolved into Dell's Social Media Command Centre).

Starbucks can also be credited as one of the pioneers of opening corporate PR practices to customer feedback, implementing and managing the myideaswebsite, which has led to several products. Let us not forget though, the pioneer in companies leveraging social media, as discussed by Paul Gillin in his book “The New Influencers” (2007), is Microsoft. They unleashed a powerful yet simplistic blogging policy on their employees in 2003 (pg. 103 – 112), which simply mandated, “Be smart”. Vic Gondotra called the experienced blogger Robert Scoble, and in a nutshell, they started improving Microsoft’s brand. Admittedly, Microsoft was fighting to fix their public image after the monopoly antitrust case, but nevertheless, Microsoft is the Pioneer when it comes to going out on a limb and opening up to customer scrutiny and feedback.

Exceptions to the rule

I am backing up a statement here that claims we are already in the future of social media. Well, it has to be said, there are always exceptions to the rule, but the counter argument can not be: "Well, if social media is evolved then how do you explain users breaking community rules?" The reality is there will always be members of a community that bend or break rules.

Companies and some individuals are guilty of sending out begging messages to get more followers. I also know of some users who leave their Twitter account to send out automated tweets through a scheduled application, pushing blog entries, and automatically managing followers. However, this does not mean social media is still in its primitive phase. These kinds of digital network behaviors will not go away. There will always be the user type who will bend the rules, and there will always be a user begging for more followers.

Here’s another truth about social media that does not mean it is in a primitive state. Managing corporate feedback forums is not a perfect system. The amount of traffic could be minimal and worse, the small amount of traffic that is streaming is SPAM. Some forward thinking professionals even see company branded communities as expensive ghost towns. Corporate/branded online communities are the exception. I would point to Dell, Starbucks and Microsoft as successful corporate/branded communities that thrived. Notice the past tense on that, we have been there and done that.

Conclusion

Based on the pioneers mentioned above, I believe that we are already experiencing the future of social media! There are still many late-adopters who refuse to look at the benefits of this field, and there are always challenges and rule breakers, but social media as an industry is very well versed and experienced. Microsoft went out on a limb back in 2003, and we’ve been bouncing on it ever since. Do I think there is a lot of room to grow? Of course, social media and web-network technologies will grow immensely over the next two years. Web based platforms have that obvious fluid tendency of getting bought and sold faster than cars! I just like the idea that we are already experiencing the "future" of social media and wanted to share that with you.

austenm

Austen Mayor

President & Founder, SocioCentral™ Online Incorporated

I was training clients in web-conferencing before MSN Messenger was popular back in 2004. I hold a BA in Communications and a love for affecting culture by building web technologies. I’m the founder of SocioCentral Online Incorporated, developing free websites through our subsidiary http://www.FWSGL.com, delivering objectives mapping, training services and hosting a database of social networks ready to be discovered.

See Full Profile >

Comments

I was expecting more of a discourse on what will happen to social media in the future, from the fairly haphazard approach that companies are taking today, to hopefully a more sophisticated strategy.  I saw another Social Media Today post earlier today at

http://socialmediatoday.com/e-marketing-sensible-folk/247737/online-soci...

that raised some questions such as the need and level of interaction with social media, the public versus private nature, and legal issues.  I challenged, or rather invited, the author to have more in-depth discussion of those issues.  So many of the issues here on Social Media Today are fairly light and I rarely am seeing these types of serious issues discussed.  Join me there in discussing these issues.  Maybe we can get some serious brainstorming going with people like you who are interested in the future of social media.

Best regards,

FG Johan

 

Thanks for the comment FG,

I realize the title implies predictions, but how's this, I will aim to publish a "sequel" to this post next week, getting more specific about how I see social media in two years.

I wanted to get my point across that social media has been around for years and that it is already evolved to the point that we are experiencing the 'future' right now. If I tried to stuff predictions in this post it would have taken away from the flow and the reader's focus.

With regards to private vs public, and legal issues, I figure companies and individuals will sort those out by platform usage and internal/external strategies. If a social media platform releases an update to their code that infringes on user-privacy (read FB), then users will push back. If it is done in secret (not really FB because they tend to announce updates), when users find out there will be a backlash.

One concern that springs to mind is Government regulations that affect privacy and access. With the information deluge, it is sometimes hard to find out about policies that were pushed behind closed doors. That's why Michael Geist is a great resource for Canadians. Anyway, we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. 

Austen,

The "sequel" will be very anticipated!  I couldn't ask for more.  I see your point that the future is here already.  In fact, the prediction of two years from now could go in many directions.

I greatly look forward to your insights.

FG

Hello,

Totally agree with FGJohan that the sequel is very inticipated. Grealtly said that future of Social Media is here. Thanks for nice post.

It seems to me that technolgy of years ago, the 80's, was a useful tool but essentially an alien device used to accomplish quantifiable tasks. Technology professionals had a geek status stigma. Today, technology has evolved into a communication device bringing long lost family members and friends together which would have never been possible without a common medium to engage in from anywhere. Using social media is not a geek event. It's as common as having a family dinner and powerful enough to cause an entire counrty to riot.

The good thing about all the new techological advances is a whole new industy had evolved. Similar to when the  internet got started it created a mulitide of new professional jobs so too has social media began to evolve. For the younger generation there is a new career path as a result of social media.  I have found the University of San Francisco offers search engine marketing training including social media and mobile marketing. The online couses offer a good strart into this industry.