Over the past few days, I have been engaging with some of the smartest minds over at Brafton (if you don’t know them, they are Social Media/content masters) via the Solar VPS blog. The original engagement began when a great friend of mine, Ty Scheiner (@tscheine) wrote a blog for Brafton titled, “4 Reasons Why Facebook Isn’t Dead”. Following this, for Solar VPS, I wrote a blog titled “Counterpoint: 4 Reasons Why Facebook Is Dying”. Then, Brafton’s Executive Communications Associate at Brafton, Ted Karczewski (@TeddyHK) wrote a brilliant rebuttal to my Solar VPS blog titled, “In Defense of Facebook: My Counter to Solar VPS”. I know, fatiguing.
Kidding aside, the back and fourth got me thinking about a topic which I like to chat about with my more social media inclined friends – that is, what will become of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Linkedin, Instagram, Tweetdeck and Pheed? What Will Be the Future of Social Media?
The Future of Social Media Is Dependent Upon SMAC
If you think about it, Social Media is really in its infancy. If we consider MySpace and Tom to be the true foundations of modern social media platforms, you begin to understand just how young connected social networks are. It can’t be said enough but the jump from MySpace and Tom to Facebook and Zuck or Twitter and Jack, has been/is immense. For me, the chasm found via the evolution of social networks is the most interesting question of the modern digital age. Where will this chasm bring us next? What are the innovations to come? Personally, while I don’t know what will happen, I am of the belief that our current social networks will become the foundation for what is to come. This to to say, Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Pinterest, Linkedin etc. will be the platform upon which future connected networks are built. But why is this? The answer is found in the term SMAC.
SMAC – or Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud – is the overall study/influence of these technologies taken as a whole. The future of social will be heavily dependent on MAC simply because without either one of the elements, social as we know it, ceases to exist.
The most public facing aspect of social’s future development are mobile platforms. With more and more consumers carrying smartphones, tablets and ultra thin laptops, mobile is becoming a larger economic force in our digital economy. Beyond the economic impact of mobile development within and outside of 1st world nations (think smartphones vs. feature phones), social is being driven by mobile platforms via powerful custom build apps. With more and more native mobile social media apps (Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter), social connected networks are being expanded by the compute resources and programming abilities of mobile social app developers/hardware makers the world over. On its head this realization is powerful however when you consider Moore’s Law, you begin to see how powerful and integral mobile is to social.
Analytics. Big Data. For some, the Big Data movement is nothing more than a marketing fad dreamed up by CMO’s and CTO’s to provide IT firms with a bit more business. Yet, for those in the know, the Big Data movement is about changing the way in which humanity collects, analyzes, understands and uses data. Just like the symbiotic nature of mobile and social, analytics and social share the same connection via powerful global sensors. At the root, social media is a collection of live human thoughts, figures and sentiments. By that rationale, social media as a whole is the true first global human Big Data sensor. That sensor can be broken down into two parts: human thoughts (the everyday mundane postings/updates) and raw statistical data (figures, polls, numbers). While the former is mundane and the later is revealing, taken as a whole the combination of global human sentiment matched with raw statistics creates the most powerful data processing tool the world has ever known. This processing tool is currently redefining how we collect information, how we analyze it and how we utilize it. For proof, look no further than the humming super servers of Wall Street located in Mahwah, NJ. As Big Data gets stronger and stronger, so will social. With the growth of social networks via granular data, Big Data will become a method of global change as opposed to a complex tool of analysis.
I work for a Cloud provider. Solar VPS offers consumer Windows and Linux Cloud solutions to power their personal/professional digital life. Due to this, I am heavily invested in everything Cloud. While the majority of the public views the Cloud as Netflix or Spotify, the true power of the Cloud is found in both data security and data storage. When matching the Cloud with Social Media two things are immediately evident: A) Social Media could not exist with Cloud solutions and B) as Cloud storage and data access become more vital/integral with daily personal/professional lives, social connected networks show the potential for near infinite expansion. With more and more solutions being driven to Cloud infrastructures and Cloud storage solutions (SAN, NAS and Storage Hypervisors or 3rd party apps like Dropbox and Sugar Sync) social networks will gain the ability to rapidly scale in both terms of performance and capacity. Now, more than ever, social is wholly dependent upon the expansion and investment in Cloud deployments.
The Future of Social Media is In Further Connectivity
So, where do I think Social Media is going? I believe socially connected networks will become more dependent on mobile devices, will contain the ability to rapidly scale and will show the promise of global instant data analysis. Will Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Linkedin and the like survive in their current form? My guess is no. My guess is another platform will come along leveraging the best of our current social networks to create a singular next level of Social Media.
Back to the original question: Is Facebook dying? No. Facebook isn’t dying but it will become something more. It will become the foundations for the digitally connected world to come.