Author: Jamie McCormick
References: automatedsocialnetworking.com, pinterest.com, linkedin.com
As we gaze deeply into tea leaves and crystal balls seeking insight into the future of social media, one aspect is becoming abundantly clear – there is simply too damn much information out there for the average user to even get to nowadays. A quick look at a high-level summary of social media shows just how cluttered the entire genre has become:
For every Facebook, there are 100’s of upstart sites offering their unique spin on social networks. Twitter has launched dozens of micro-blogging imitators. Instagram and Flickr bring the world to us, one user photo at a time. Videos on Vine and YouTube allow us to access self-appointed experts in anything you can possibly think of – exhibits of talents to self-help and scores of “what were they thinking?” moments in random peoples’ lives. Pinterest. Reddit. Periscope. Tumblr. The social media platform is growing exponentially, and the content is growing faster than we could ever actually consume in our lifetimes.
As businesses have scrambled to harness the power of social media, we have found ourselves burdened by the onslaught of requests and options to view more, and more, and MORE information and data. This unprecedented growth is leading towards a breaking point, and this breaking point is going to create new trends and movements in the evolution of social media. Most prevalently, we will see the full movement towards Social Media 3.0.
Social Media 3.0
As with any rapidly growing entity, there comes a point where the vast amounts of options available require a way to simplify and clarify all that is out there. This may take many different forms, but the current trend is one deemed Social Media 3.0, and it focuses around the notion of content communities. As Jermaine Young stated, “Content Communities are basically groups of people that share a common interest across multiple platforms who follow re-purposed content with the same message and intent across all networks.” So whereby in the past we have sought out information on Facebook, or Twitter, or any other social media application, content communities seek out content across any, and all, platforms, to get to the best content, regardless of the means of distribution or creative slant. This is a departure from the growth of social media, where the novelty of a given application – and the resulting form of content it influenced – often was the bigger story than any of the content it carried. Marshall McLuhan, you say?
Where McLuhan applies, in this case, is with the absolute insurmountable amounts of data and information that exists solely due to how social media operates. And it is because of all of this information that people are going to require more and more tools to be able to sort through it and collect it. Hence the movement towards content communities. But here is where we depart from McLuhan, for as much as the medium generated this content, it is now the content that is King.
Moving forward, users will be united by centralized areas of interest, for instance photography, but the real power will lie in being able to create sub-groups within these communities, thus better reflecting how things operate in the “real world”. Users will be connected via their photography connections, but then further broken down by a sub-topic, such as “Canon Users”, and all sharing will be done across content, as opposed to platform.
The Benefit of Content Communities:
Going forward, this movement is going to help businesses dramatically improve their ability to access their target markets, as they will no longer be required to maintain a presence on multiple social media platforms. Rather, by creating relationships within these content communities, and tapping these users that have an obvious affinity for the topics being explored and discussed, they will be able to provide content via the best social media alternative for the type of information they want to display, as opposed to trying to generate content for use in each specific social media platform.
Social media is ever-evolving, and the next phase of its evolution appears to be a shift from the form of content to the content itself – a welcomed change for marketers who have been trying to force their content to fit with the various applications that currently populate the social media landscape. This rise of content communities will serve to unify users who have been spread across the different social media platforms, and return the focus to the content itself. McLuhan be damned.