Sunday, 5 April 2009

The future of Social Media

We've seen many changes in the applications that are being used within the realm of Social Media. From Bebo, Facebook, StumbleUpon to Digg to name just a few. Where is this taking us, and what will Social Media look like in the future?

Well, I may not have a crystal ball, but I have noted several key developments that will almost certainly shape the future of Social Media applications.

Firstly, real time updates are crucial to the future of Social Media. This functionality is one of the key elements attributed to the rapid rise in success of Twitter. While all Social Media applications allow communication, they have largely been asynchronous communication. How do I know that this is critical? Because Facebook have very quickly responded to this feature of Twitter by adding the same functionality. As human beings, we converse in real time, and so any application that can emulate this ability is likely to succeed. This explains why instant messaging applications such as Microsoft Messenger are so popular. It is therefore important for any future Social Media application to allow real time updates of information, and to allow more human like synchronous conversations to occur. Like cash within the financial sector, liquidity is key.

Social media applications should allow for the greatest number of connections between users as possible. What I mean by this is that it should be possible for any given individual to connect with as many other individuals as possible. Many current Social Media applications work on the model that your network will consist only of people you know, without allowing you to search for and connect with people you don't know. If Social Media is about one thing, it is this: it is about connecting people. The Social Media application of the future will allow people to search for, connect with and communicate with as many people as they desire.

The Social Media application of the future must be developed using open and extensible technologies. You only have to look at the many applications that have developed around Facebook and Twitter to see this. If you develop your new Social Media application using proprietary technologies, then it is simply doomed to failure. The Internet is the biggest, most ubiquitous development platform there is, so this is an inexcusable faux pas.

These are fascinating times, and I cannot wait to see what the future holds.

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