Love it or hate it, Social Media has been a force since the early 2000s. Looking at the feature inset chart, we see primarily a duopoly of Google’s YouTube and Facebook properties.
There are others in niche markets (i.e., Linkedin), and there are still other new niche platforms (i.e., TikTok) that are starting to emerge as well. However, some believe that Social Media is starting to become a maturing industry. News Forecasters believes that it’s time to rethink the future of Social Media.
There have been many folks that have already looked at current trends – so let’s not try to recreate some of this work. In the short-run (1 to 5 years) Social Media continues as providers continue to try to expand their platforms and technology. We did a little Google search and came up with this list of these short-term trends:
- The “Townsquare” model is dead – more censorship of extreme views.
- Communication becomes even more visual.
- Messaging and bots.
- Predictive services.
- Social eCommerce.
- Passive networking – less exposing personal information.
- Amazon makes a move on the advertising duopoly.
- Artificial intelligence will be everywhere – algorithms.
- Mobile innovation.
- More privacy controls.
- Fake news and the rise of regulation.
- Advertising on relevant, targeted content.
- Social media managers won’t be interns anymore.
- Segmentation of social media platforms – age, country, cultural groups, etc …
- Can’t ignore advertisements – more intrusive.
- Integration of more apps and games.
- You will need more sponsored posts to get relevant.
- Integration of platforms via APIs.
- Live streaming.
This is all well and good, but News Forecasters’ real focus is the longer-term – 5 to 10 years. Looking at cultural trends as it pertains to the business and government responses to Social Media trends, News Forecasters sees two major trends appearing.
Social Media platforms are morphing into a Marketing platform for old media – if we went back 50 years ago, TV, radio, and newspapers dominated the media landscape. Social Media was primarily accomplished by letter writing. Some independent communications were done via controlled classified ads. This gave business a good controlled user base to mass market to. But as TV got repetitive interest dropped and users were eager to start using Social Media platforms, as it gave access to more interesting content that one could engage with.
Hence, business lost its audience to market to and have been slowly transitioning to where the users are. One problem of the Social Media platforms was that they had grown into a sesspool of independently user-created content. Business had a hard time with their advertising campaigns, as they could not be associated with this sesspool content due to brand tarnishing issues. In addition, old media with their declining user base also needed to migrate to where the users were – Social Media.
Responding to this trend, Social Media companies are busy censoring and de-platforming the independently user-created content, in favor of old media, to cater to a more marketing-friendly business model. No its not just about censoring conservatives – it’s about the money. Social Media is killing the golden goose. They are destroying their platforms and don’t realize it. They have forgotten why they even exist – the Social Media demise.
What happens to the users? Well, for now, many are scattered to the wind, running to small enclaves where they can more freely express themselves and get back to the roots of Social Media – platforms such as Discord, Gaming platforms, or even advanced self-hosted text forums. New AI is developing to make these new environments even more engaging (not just Gaming, but the use of Gaming technologies) – old Social Media can’t make the transition. They use Social Media to merely collect users to go off-platform. New specialized search engines and reference sites are being developed for users to find these new homes. For new entrepreneurs, there are probably some new business ideas buried somewhere in here.
Government entities struggle to control the political dialogue vs. the desire to perform intelligence gathering on its citizens – LifeLog was a project of DARPA of the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). It was a system that captures, stores, and makes accessible the flow of one person’s experience in and interactions with the world, in order to track people’s activities for intelligence purposes. This program ended in the same month Facebook started in 2004. The two systems sound the same – no? Conspiracy or not, Social Media allows governments to track people for what they will say is for national security.
Social Media also allows people to have a voice to disrupt governments. It can be used to organize against governments and recruit and conduct operations of counter-insurgency groups (example). So, on the one hand, governments want people to post on Social Media, but on the other hand, it can get out of control and cause problems for a government – a paradox. This is why some groups don’t want Social Media moderated too much. Unfortunately, for many government entities, management of a government program is always problematic – they will be unable to manage the paradox. With the demise of Social Media, governments will lose this capability soon, if not already – users are getting wiser and are finding other channels – especially the more nefarious actors.
Summary – News Forecasters believes in short that, Social Media will stagnate and even decline over the long-run (5 to 10 years). As the Social Media user base scatters to the wind, and after the Social Media demise, we will have to come back to this question to understand what is next – perhaps a better world or total control in a dystopian world. The excessive greed of Social Media companies (killed the golden goose) and poor government management will be largely to blame.
A video presentation of this subject: