The Curated Web: Social Media and the Future

RBarrett    November 20, 2014

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Two trends will cycle high in our culture: cocooning, our desire to shelter ourselves from the harsh realities of our world, and fantasy adventure, our hunger for the new and unconventional. – Faith Popcorn, futurist/trend predictor

Becoming a soothsayer is not easy. You have to be aware of a multitude of things and you have to have insider’s knowledge of those things. To predict the future of social media though one only needs to examine both the present and the past.

The 17 Future Trends, Faith Popcorn

Social media is by its purest nature inclusive of all. You choose a platform and seek common ground to interact with family, friends and strangers. That bond is organic, strengthening, growing, shrinking and evolving over time. It grows like how we grow. The best platforms like Facebook and Twitter have found the right mix. Both are community networks with a minimum of rules that allow users to be themselves or hide behind online personas. Both give the impression of being non-intrusive most of the time, although many would beg to differ. Other social media platforms offer more specialized experiences.

There goes the neighbourhood
Curated social media is not a new thing. In fact, it was arguably the first kind of social media that emerged on the internet. Sites like Black Planet have been around for 15 years and are still going strong. DeviantART is another fairly well known example of curated social media.

However the prevailing social media trend of the last decade has been one of inclusiveness rather than exclusiveness. Facebook and Twitter have succeeded by allowing anyone and everyone to join and participate. But there has been a price for opening up the floodgates. Users can often feel lost as they aimlessly surf online at these sites. It can take a long time to find like minded people that share your interests and beliefs. The Swiss Army Knife approach to being a catch-all for all has prompted some users to seek different or better online experiences.

The next big things
Exclusivity and agility are now the holy grail for social media platforms. The mobile app is key, with new startups like Spayce touting the ability to connect within a local radius with other users as a way to meld digital and real life interaction. This takes a page from the Tinder approach. Tinder of course is the dating site where you can like profiles and meet with interested parties in your vicinity.

Introducing Tinder Plus.

Tinder is also an example of a social network with a defined purpose and target audience. Netropolitan is a platform geared towards the ultra-rich who shun more common networks for privacy and/or snobbery reasons. It touts itself as an “online country club”.

There is of course a real dilemma in parsing your audience down to such specific segments. Can you generate enough interest in your product/service? Is your market big enough to financially sustain you? Can you grow while remaining true to your roots? Some, like Facebook, say “no” and make the decision to open the floodgates to much success. Others are hoping that the niche they carve makes them stand out from the crowded field.

Submitted by: Richard Barrett, MOHLTC
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