When social networking started to go mainstream, it seemed like it will go down the same path that search engine went after their juvenile phase. It seemed that Facebook will be the new Google of social networking and it will define what social media is and which direction it will head in.
But the market of social networking sites proved to be far more liberal. We had many niche sites and even competitors for Facebook in the form of Twitter, LinkedIn and the many other services that co-exist with Facebook and shape what social networking is today.
This nature of the market allowed for more room for innovation, complimenting or integrating with existing services rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, and a healthy environment where risk takers and start-ups can blossom.
Social media is currently a one-size-fit-all space in which people of all walks and interests share this space. Soon enough, with the advent of more customizable and private Social networks, people will start fragmenting while still wanting to maintain the public connection. Activists, obsessive hobbyists, and the like would favor the space where they can free front their identities and discuss their interests with like minded people. This will open the space for more secluded and niche social networks to spring up on platforms like Ning and grou.ps.
Social networks, since their inception, have been all about connecting, but those connections didn’t have any purpose in and of themselves beyond the personal drives. I connected to a “friend” because I’ve been to college with him, or he’s my brother in law; whatever the reason was, it was strictly personal.
Businesses didn’t really factor into people’s social media connections at all beyond the networking and social factor. This will change.
The creation of networks that include a group of specialized handpicked people who provide customized and reliable services will be invaluable. Think of a network of lawyers that will provide basic services and answer legal questions, or a network of designers that provide designing advice and serve as a freelance hub.
All those services existed but they will soon rise to prominence when our social media starts professionalizing beyond its current casual nature.
Businesses like statistics; they help them understand their position and scrutinize their strategy. As more and more businesses join in the fray of social media marketing, a parallel industry will start growing along side it, a statistics business. Services such as Trendrr, Sprout, Shoutlet and many others will gain momentum and in turn more business, just to make sense of the data and trends of social media. This will force marketing firms to complete their migration into the information age.
Given the current environment of mistrust that engulfs Facebook, the future of it being the biggest social network is being jeopardized and surely competitors will jump on the opportunity to take advantage of the circumstances. This will translate into a fiercer environment and will only be beneficial to us, the users. It will create the perfect environment for social networks to evolve beyond their casual nature into even more complex beasts.
So what do you feel is the next big thing in social media? Let us hear your thoughts.