All over the Internet, it seems that any blogger, who has nothing to say or is simply uninspired for the moment, will surely post something about the rise and the progress of social media.
The subject is debated from news websites to the ones about gardening and the trend is that, if it did not happen yet, that anybody knows something new about social media. Even though it is a very hot subject there are still enough people who are in doubt about social media: is it something transitory or is it as important as the discovery of fire, steam power or the Internet? Nobody knows but all the information says that social media is a powerful and interesting entity.
Definitely, the power of the social media is amazing and, combined with the one of the many examples available, we can see the big picture: for example, according to the United Nations Cyberschoolbus Document the radio needed 38 years to reach 50 million users, the TV 13 years, the Internet 4 years and Facebook reached 100 million users in nine months (Mashable says). The most important activity on the web is social media; on average, in a 20 minute period in 2010 on Facebook there were 10,208,000 comments posted (according to AllFacebook).
Another interesting fact about social media is the fact that it isn’t preferred only by young people, one of the fastest segments on Facebook consists of 55-65 years-old women.
In a nutshell the statistics suggest that social media is a real interesting fact and neglecting it may be dangerous.
On the other hand, people are still inexperienced when it comes to the complexity of this domain; a lot of people, when they think about social media, the first names in their heads are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and maybe YouTube. There is a major misunderstanding: social media is a wide, very complex domain. Specialists divide social media in various classifications: I have found blogs and websites which treat this subject, dividing it in 6 categories to even 23. The difference is huge but the essence isn’t lost in any of these attempts to classify the different aspects of social media and, because it is a very new and dynamic concept, it is practically impossible to obtain a world-wide classification structure. Here I offer my own analysis which is inspired from others and also my experience has played its role; nobody can state that it is good/bad, perfect or stupid because there is no international convention to clarify this. It will be great to know if the readers agree with me or have another idea, I am very open to new ideas so please use the comment form for this.
It is an obvious fact that social networks are the favorites of the Internet users but when we speak about numbers, blogs are clearly more numerous. These are described as online journals where the blogger posts his or her daily activities or any other thoughts and it means that the privacy is down but the possibility of becoming well known is higher than staying in the shadow. These are very numerous and the idea expanded in a fulminatory manner; nowadays there are more than 200,000,000 blogs. The main advantages of these are:
Another important type of blogs is the micro blogging activity which is regarded as a condensed solution of having a blog. The idea of these is to post an unusual activity, an intense inner feeling or everything worthy in few characters and sometimes the results are awesome. The more “human” aspect of the blogs is the fact that friendships are formed around these communities; it is amazing to see that people who come from different corners of the world have similar passions, becoming friends.
Many people consider that social media is equivalent to social networks but the truth is different; these websites are truly more dynamic and attract more traffic, they are more important but ignoring the other components is wrong. These social networks are various and numerous but, by far, Facebook is number one, being a global movement and its evolution seems to break any limits of the online power of influence. Any social network, in order to be competitive, has its own specificity or else, without any original idea, Internet users will quickly quit it and land on other social network websites. The palette is extremely large, from serious social networks which tend to be business networks as LinkedIn to more pragmatic choices as HI5 or Tagged where anyone can make connections or even boy/girlfriends. The entire community is waiting to see which networks can became the “new Facebook” or the new ones will be an upgraded version of the “old” Facebook. Will another website become as well-known as Facebook? These questions do not have an answer, only God knows but I am more than interested in finding out your personal opinion. Advertising companies have noticed that many users spend a lot of time on these kinds of websites and start using them as a platform for marketing. The results are important enough to change any skeptical opinions and nowadays we are talking about a real and quick increasing industry.
This kind of social media isn’t as popular as the previous categories but it is a real help for the ones who understand the mechanism behind it, which of course, isn’t complicated at all. Once somebody has created an account, these websites allow for the keeping of any links stored in a safe place; any browser has its own bookmark options but these can be damaged, lost or hard to manipulate (there are people, and I am one example, who are bookmarking the entire Internet and it is very annoying to scroll down tens of pages).
One of the most important social bookmarking networks is Delicious which has a very simply method of tagging the bookmarks, easy to navigate and use. I am not promoting the services of Delicious so please search and join any social bookmarking website and 99% I am sure you won’t be disappointed.
Diverse high-speed Internet connections were the support for another kind of social media. YouTube is a real phenomenon, it is a video sharing website and a lot of people have become well known worldwide thanks to it. I met here the singing dog, the poor guy with golden voice, Justin Bieber or learned how to decode a phone and these are few examples of what YouTube is all about, meaning the second largest search engine on the web. There are other networks which allow sharing images and these have a rate of growing enough to motivate to use it but, sooner come into the market other online resources which definitely do not have to be missed. Flickr is recognized as a huge inspirational resource; almost 3000 images are uploaded every minute. As a personal consideration, these kinds of websites abridge the distance between customer and provider so keep an eye on these valuable online presences.
These websites are the result of the collaboration of the users which became the authors and by far Wikipedia is the best example. The process is simple: any user who wants to write a review, an opinion or something similar is asked to upload it and, in a short time, the content is examined or simply published. The quality of user generated content is sometimes below the standards, but in a future world, let’s hope more responsible, this issue will disappear.
Another wrong idea about social media is the conception that it is useful only for the Internet addicts or in the v-world. The unhappy events in Egypt are the latest instance which reveals the fact that Internet and social media are supports of freedom and crowd manipulation tools. The revolutionary people said that they use Facebook to schedule meetings, Twitter to coordinate and YouTube to show to the world what is happening. The new Jules Verne of our times should take these into consideration or ignore them? How will the future of social media look and how to better prepare for the challenges in the future are some stringent questions to which specialists are searching for a good and complete answer.
Here, I propose two different scenarios: the first, which is considered optimistic – social media will maintain the rhythm of growing and people will be receptive to the new possibilities – and the second, more skeptical, which means that the climax was in the present. I hope that you are aware that these are the extremities and the truth is always between these; these scenarios are a complex exercise of imagination with interesting conclusions.
The social media won’t be considered a fade; it will become the main activity of the average Internet user. The blogs will be everywhere (but isn’t this happening in fact nowadays?) and any information may be extracted from a blog. A very important fact in developing social media websites is the financial potential; here, advertising and marketing have immense possibilities of creating sources of income. We are living a big revolution in the field of advertising, the “offline” ways of promoting are more and more abandoned and the online modalities are put into practice and it seems that it is more profitable. The beginning of these, still considered unconventional modalities of marketing, is here: it isn’t difficult to find websites that tweet promotional messages to your followers and the user who allows it receives a small amount of money and this is only an example. The future clearly is bright when we speak about online advertising.
Even though Facebook has still problems and many specialists say that the climax was in 2010, it developed everywhere and as Google is number one in the search engines, the work of Mark Zuckerberg is the first social network. The number of social networks will be in perpetual growing and at the first sight it could seem that the Internet is oversaturated with these but the reality demonstrates that new social networks are still needed. Every domain will have its own specific social network – in the future the success of any social network will be related to how particular a domain is. Every branch of the common activity will have their social network and this only means a more coherent workflow of information, something which is wonderful.
In the shining future of social media, Wikipedia like websites will play a capital role in the education of the students but also can substitute the lecture of a book for any person. Here, a large quantity of information will be stocked, made available to everyone for free, but also the number of contributors should increase and, more important is the quality of the materials uploaded. Nowadays, the information on these kinds of websites isn’t entirely trustworthy and, in the future, this problem needs a special approach.
In the optimistic future, every Internet user will be a user of the services of social media but these can and must be extended in the real life. In few years, i.e. we will buy online products mostly convinced by the own preferences but also by the “likes” on Facebook or any recommendation on other social networks. To overcome the skepticism of the adversary side, the big solution is to become more useful to the ordinary people; any positive use of a social network should be clearly emphasized.
All these considerations are situated in the “optimistic scenario” but there is another aspect which plays a major role in the huge expansion of the social networks: the mobile devices. You may think about it as a more philosophical matter but until now people accessed the online medium through their computer but nowadays the social media, as a part of the Internet, is coming to you and other users as terminals the phones. Hope you get the idea, the connection between people and the Internet is almost biunique. This bilateral relationship proposes social media as the beginning of a more closed collaboration and handheld devices as the main possibility to catalyze this. Anyway it is clear that social media and the new smartphones are interconnected, bringing pieces of the near future into the present.
Initially I wanted to write: “There is no pessimistic scenario” but I tried to find some negative aspects; these exists, are important but categorically all of them have solutions.
Let’s suppose that social media is a concrete entity which can’t be ignored and its development is amazing but there are many disadvantages that aren’t fully revealed. When it comes to Facebook, it is well known that its security policy isn’t the most severe ever seen, almost anyone can steal personal information from other persons. The most evident case: even the creator of Facebook has some issues with his account. A fragile domain is the security of the social networks and many people, in the near future and even on long time term, will quit this kind of activity due to these problems. There are a lot of cases where embarrassing pictures are uploaded without the permission of the owner or situations when somebody posted that he is in pleasuring and he/she forgot to connect the anti-theft system and the thieves took advantage.
Another potential trouble of the social media is the capability of providing the proper information; nobody can force someone to publish only correct, relevant and decent posts. Due to this fact, adding up with the fact that many novices which aren’t professionals launched blogs dreaming about instant success, the potential users will treat circumspectly these components of social media. Wikipedia is full of very interesting articles, but unfortunately there are a lot of contributions which aren’t useful to anyone.
The future should offer trustworthy solutions or else the Internet users will consider the blogs and user generated content websites as a big loss of time. Apparently, this is not a very important point but the average time spent by users on social networks is pretty significant related to the duration of a day and we can say that these are subdued to a higher willpower. There are companies which banned the access of the employers to various websites, mostly of them, social networks. Definitely, if there wasn’t Facebook and Twitter I would be more efficient but who is forcing me to join these and spend so much time here? Clearly, nobody forces someone to lose his or her time on any website; here is the free arbitrage of anyone.
The answer of these problems is the solution of the future but it is highly recommended to forecast it in order to progress and this statement must be applied also to social media. Definitely, it will be interesting to read this post once again in 2020 to see which points were implemented and which not; please put your impressions and come back in 2020 to see your predictions (don’t worry, you can be back sooner not only in 2020!).