Monday, August 16, 2010

Next Big Thing in Social Media!

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Recently, I took some time to examine past trends in information technology. It was interesting to see what the experts have forecasted over the last couple of decades. So, how accurately have past pundits been in predicting the course of new information technologies? Back in the 1970s, expert systems were going to revolutionize the way businesses were run, acquiring and preserving corporate know-how in decision-making software. It turned out that expert systems were simply too "brittle" to capture the knowledge necessary to make decisions in complex real world situations. The limitations of logic-based machines caused them to "breakdown" when attempting to address the messy circumstances that human thinking effectively deals with every day.

Nonetheless, it is worth pointing out that there have been significant technology predictions that eventually bore fruit, such as automated speech recognition. In general, however, history hasn't been kind to futurists, especially those that have forecasted huge technological leaps in short periods. As an example, some social media pundits envision human-machine interfaces, making the Internet (and social media) an integral part of our minds (--talk about an "electronic leash"!).

With the above caveats in mind, enjoy the following provocative speculations about the future of social media.

Admittedly, most will likely turn out to be wrong or take longer than expected, and perhaps the most important ones will go entirely unforeseen by the experts. I look forward to hearing your reactions to these forecasts and, of course, your own predictions about the future of social media.


  1. As someone with very little knowledge concerning SMM, I have a couple questions. In your opinion, how do services such as Spyfu aid potential social media marketers? Do you think these type of services are going to become essential for effect SMMing?

    As far as the future of social media is concerned, it seems to me that the next big thing is services that help the marketer choose not only the best places to advertise, but how to advertise in a way that maximizes dollars spent. What do you think?

    William Wall

  2. Hi William,

    Glad you found this information helpful. Spyfu is a Web analytic tool primarily designed to aid in tracking SEO (search engine optimization) and search advertising (Google AdWords). Naturally, it will have cross-over applications with social media marketing because one goal of SMM is to drive traffic to a Web site and, hence, increase the site's Google ranking in search results. There are lots of such SEO tools on the market and I, frankly, haven't used Spyfu. You may want to check out Google Analytics first, given that it is free and offers many of the same features touted by Spyfu.

    As for the future of social media marketing, keep in mind that advertising is interruptive by nature, while SMM is uses participation and collaboration to influence rather than interrupt users. So, SMM is probably not the best way to determine where to spend ad dollars. I would look at search advertising, specifically Google AdWords a good way to target ad dollars.

  3. I immediatelythink about the movie Terminator. According to that machines dominate humanity in the not so distant future. Of course it is not based on reality, but is interesting. The fact that there ahve been four movies regarding the technology or that movie producers and creators can make machines that look so real (I realize that special effects are in place as well). I often think just how far off we are to really creating machines that can do some of these things.

  4. I immediatelythink about the movie Terminator. According to that machines dominate humanity in the not so distant future. Of course it is not based on reality, but is interesting. The fact that there ahve been four movies regarding the technology or that movie producers and creators can make machines that look so real (I realize that special effects are in place as well). I often think just how far off we are to really creating machines that can do some of these things.
    Medicine revolutions, techology that is avaialble for invasive surgeries and the internet all make the possibilities of machines becoming more powerful real in a sense. For instance, I can not take your blood pressure as quickly or as accurately as the machines at the hospital or look at your bones without an exray machine. I think sometimes we forget or take for granted just all we do depend on machines for.
    Raymond Peterson

  5. Hi Raymond,

    Bill Gates has said that we often over estimate what will in the near term and under estimate will occur in the long term. In regard to social media, he may be right. Video is currently the rage, but in the long term, where that trend will take is likely to be some kind 3D or perhaps even a virtual reality-like experience when interacting with others.

  6. Some of the information listed in this article is fascinating, and at the same time, it is also very scary. The thought of being able to "think" a tweet seems a little bit excessive to me. Being able to access the internet in general, in my opinion, isn't such a smart idea. I don't know, maybe I am old-fashioned. You do have a very fascinating post here, and some interesting links below.

    Under the first link, "This is the future of social media," there is a section about politics. It is called micro politics. It concerns me that politicians will, in essence, be able to read our minds when making decisions.

    Christopher E. Eden

  7. I have a grand problem with the materialist point of view many "futurists" adulterate their forecasts with. Many "futurists" do not actually keep tabs on all fields of scientific advancement concerning humanity, or conscious advancement for that matter. For instance, there has been much discovered within the last ten years about the role of consciousness itself in creating the material world around us. Now there are those (sometimes called transhumanists) that assume the next logical step for humankind is to integrate technology with the biological, however this is as intuitvely lacking as thinking it's a good and sustainable notion to entertain the idea of leaving this planet "once" our resources have inevitably run out. We do not have the production capabilities let alone the above ground resources to provide an American's technologically rich lifestyle to the world. Futurists are as was mentioned so often wrong because they too often make their projections with small pieces of what can be understood about the present and where it is going. Add onto this their focus on markets and consumerism and you've got yourself a well misled forecaster because the most game changing ideas are not motivated by the success they'll gain in a market.

    I am however very excited to see social networking sites grow in efficiency and eventually allow the spread of free information so that word of mouth can be the marketing force rather than arms of the companies who have vested interest in making sure their product sells regardless of it's actual relevance or quality.

    Michael Henderson

  8. Predictions in Social networking are difficult to make. Technology has come a long way and is far beyond what I ever imagined as a kid. The future looked like hover cars and robot waiters at restaurants to most of us, which is a great feat, but we have gotten much further than that in some regards and still lack in others.
    The things that we are seeing come to fruition now such as the blutooth implants and video screen glasses are beyond what I would have ever imagined. Once we start implanting technology into our brains what is the limit? is there a limit? are we that far away from video screen contact lenses? It is difficult to say, however we all must agree that we are becoming far more "connected" than we ever have been in the past. It will be interesting to see what the next 50 years brings us.
    -Robert Smith-Anderson

  9. Hi Michael,

    Bill Gates has said the futurists are always to optimistic in their predictions in the short term and too pessimistic in the long run. Trans-humanists have a powerful argument in their corner, nano-technology is becoming a reality. In brief, this technology lets scientists turn any set of atoms (molecule) into another set of atoms. What does this potentially mean? That any substance can be converted into any other substance. We are some time off before this tech is fully realized, but it has the potential to eliminate the idea of economics is based on--scarcity of resources.

  10. After reading what you had to say and following all the links, social media is already an integral part of our everyday life. Social media is used everywhere from corporate America down to elementary schools. You go to any public place like the store or skating rink you will inevitably over hear some teen rag or brag about what they read, wrote, saw, or heard on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, or YouTube.
    If anyone would be in-line for an interface that allowed them to be on the Internet all the time it’s the teens. The thought of them being able to stay up all hours of the night and talk with their friends without their parents knowing about, what teen wouldn’t love that?
    I can easily see how the “media pundits” as you put them can see that level of integration of the Internet in our every-day life, in our not too distant future. I too can see that. It would help companies monitor their profit and help in customer service, help students, homemakers, and the military. With the technology out there I can actually see us with the help of the social media networks finally become a more united world. Of course that might not happen for another 50 - 100 years that’s if they can figure out how to turn them off at will and control who sees what and when.
    Domenica Wilson

  11. I am continually amazed by the technological possibilities realized over the past two decades. I was certain as a young boy that the advent of wireless worldwide communications would spark huge advancements for our species, however this has been seen in more arenas than we could have ever predicted.
    As it has been coined recently, we are now “moving at the speed of thought” and it is difficult at times to keep up with social media’s impacts on social consciousness. How many large corporations have been seemingly “caught with their pants down” and unable to respond in an effective manner to those who are exercising their free expression and raising the awareness of millions of social media site users per day? Public entities have only begun to feel the heat from the scrutiny of a better informed and connected public, the numbers of which will keep growing exponentially. My hope for the future is an age of enlightenment rather than a Trans-humanist one, though we’ll see a fair share of both.
    John Donovan Goldsmith

  12. Predicting the future is hard in the best of circumstances. Predicting the future of technology is an order of magnitude harder. We are very quickly reaching a point where hardware capabilities are no longer a bottleneck. The only real limitation is the speed at which people come up with great ideas and successfully execute them. You should go easy on the futurists. After all, is there anything less predictable than human ingenuity?
    Josh Bailey

  13. Thanks Domenica, John, and Josh for your comments!

    Josh - I do agree with your last statement ;)