January is the time of year where everyone loves to make predictions. However, rather than thinking about what might happen in a year or 18 months, we started thinking about the long term and what social media might look like, and what potential developments we could see.
A MORE FRAGMENTED SOCIAL LANDSCAPE
With the rise in private groups centered around individual topics, and encrypted messaging apps, we can see users having accounts on more platforms which cater to a topic - think Twitch for gaming, and Strava for cycling, for example.
TIGHTER REGULATIONS ON SOCIAL MEDIA COMPANIES
We can see the blur between what is a ‘media’ company and what is a ’technology’ company getting more complicated. In the future it will be more clearly defined in order to better regulate what content is allowed to be hosted on social platforms, a rise in editorial standards and the fact-checking of political statements.
Facebook, Twitter and all other major platforms claim they are nothing more than a technology company, however we can see the regulation on these tech giants tighten in the coming years. These companies will have to take much more responsibility over what is hosted on their sites.
In their current form, chatbots are useful tools for a lot of e-commerce and retail companies to handle customer service queries, but have also been used in multiple different innovative ways. These include Facebook Messenger based FinTech, such as Plum, and tools to help you Christmas shop more effectively - as used by Lego recently.
Chatbots in the future will be much smarter in predicting and solving customer problems, and could function as a personal assistant. With greater integrations, AI chatbots could potentially spot when you are most likely in need of a holiday, for example, and based on social media engagement activity, prepare a selection of trips that are within your budget, timeframe, holiday allowance, and are places you’d like to visit. With all of the booking options pre-populated, all you’d need to do is confirm and book.
Chatbots could also be used for many other non-commercial tasks. This could include sentiment analysis on your social media posts to spot when you are struggling with your mental health - offering support, encouragement, and even therapy via the app.
VOICE SEARCH & INTERACTION
Amazon have shown their ability to integrate Alexa into almost anything, so short of them developing their own social network, we can see voice assistants and tools like Alexa and Siri handling a lot more of the typing we do on social media.
THE RISE OF AR AND VR
This last one is a little dependent on devices and adoption, but we’re seeing an increase in the use of VR in industries such as gaming, and the big mobile phone manufacturers are including a lot more AR tech into their devices.
In social media, there is a lot of potential in the advertising space to provide another creative method to demonstrate products, services, or even destinations, through interactive virtual ads and experiences.
The most interesting things in technology are the ones we never see coming. Predictions and trends are all well and good, but we’re most excited about the developments that come out of the blue. The challenge is then adapting to these changes and making sure that your brand is continuing to communicate in a way that is relevant to consumers.
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