Social media is growing up REAL fast. As we gain a clearer view of how it impacts society, communities, individuals, economies and governments, we get better clues to how it will evolve in the future. And we love imagining what the future holds. Plus it’s 6 months ‘til all the trend reports come out and we’re feeling the need to do some ball gazing of the crystal variety. No timelines or tech references here, just some hypotheticals….
So let’s scratch that prophetic itch and whisk away into the whimsical world of What Ifs and wonder what the future will wow us with…
ONE INBOX TO RULE THEM ALL
Every app has an inbox right now. Nobody wants the same thing replicated over and over. What we need is a smooth and seamless way of communicating with each other; one with all the context and nuance of our current smorgasbord of choices but without feeling like you’re managing a bunch of touch points with redundant overlapping functionality. One inbox, constantly sorting, cataloguing and providing context for your communication needs, both public and private, personal and professional.
Bonus : Creation seamlessly jumps from one medium to another. If I can’t type a response, I’ll transcribe a voice note. If I can’t read an article, I’ll listen to it as podcast. And all screenshots are also hyperlinks.
MY DATA, MY CHOICE
Your digital data will be your private property. Platforms and brands will ask for permission to access and use it but will never own it. The demand and supply of data for brands will create a new type of market, with the cost of consumer data reflecting their worth as a part of multiple target markets. Personal data storage and control creates an entirely new industry and individuals rest safe knowing copies of their most intimate info aren’t idly waiting on dozens of servers to be hacked, stolen, sold, or used against them.
PSEUDONYMITY FOR SAFETY
Cancel culture, doxxing and cybercrime make people increasingly protective of linking their online identity with their real world lives. Pseudonymous profiles offer a layer of protection without completely sacrificing credibility. A balance will be struck with protecting ourselves while safeguard society at large from the damage wreaked by an internet plagued with anonymous trolls.
This balance will please none of the people, none of the time, but it will be a compromise everyone can live with.
YOU GET REVENUE. YOU GET REVENUE. EVERYONE GETS REVENUE
Capital flows from advertiser to platform are replaced by multi-directional transactions. IE value moves from everyone, to anyone. This may be compensation for attention (brand to consumer), entertainment (consumer to creator), referral (commerce to creator) or curation (consumer to platform). Network adoption will be driven by the most frictionless transactions, all other things being equal. Creating and maintaining a framework that benefits all users will be hugely profitable.
MAKE MINE NICHE
You are always you, but the parts you share with others vary depending on circumstances and company. You don’t talk and act on a night out with your inner circle the same as you do in a meeting with clients. Social media will get better at reflecting the many facets of a person, as context and audience dictates. Instead of LinkedIn for work, Insta for aesthetics, Twitter for opinions, our social feeds will reflect the nature of the relationship with the consumers of our content. Just like real life.
The flip side of this will be your newsfeed will cater more to moods, topics and interests than simply latest vs most popular. This all ends up in content sharing and consumption being a smoother, more organic feeling experience. It only works once the echo chamber phenomenon is resolved, which will take several failed attempts before ultimately succeeding.
Hi and BUY
Everything is for sale, and it’s one click away. Or a swipe, because everyone’s on a phone. Maybe a finger snap, because gesture control. Commerce and transaction are so deeply embedded in the social experience, it will feel nearly effortless. And it will be incredibly safe.
Which brings us to the final point:
MAGIC INTERNET MONEY
The flow of value must be near-free and frictionless for many of these points to flourish. It will probably be some form of cryptocurrency. It will definitely be easier to use than any current cryptocurrency is. And it will almost certainly be more than a means of financial transaction; it will also be a way to transfer information. It’s also got to work outside of other institutions, be trustworthy, and scale globally. For social to evolve, it must first move beyond offering a free service to people and an advertising channel to businesses.
There’s a few maybe’s but we’ll leave you with one certainty to balance it out. Whatever the future holds is gonna look a LOT different from what we think of today as normal.