The Future of Social Networks.

# Brian Chappell of Ignite Social Media asked 21 social media practitioners and pundits, myself included, for their thoughts on a few issues around the current state of social media and what may be coming up in future. The brief survey featured the three questions below:

1. Do you think social networking has hit a saturation point and peaked in user interest?

2. Compared to what happened to MySpace, what do you think is the future of Facebook?

3. For businesses and brands that are just starting to ramp up in 2012, what new social networking trends do you see going forward?

The responses were varied (especially with regards to the future of Facebook) and created a real exercise in "compare and contrast" but some common themes did appear and I would urge you to read the full post should you get the chance.

My own answers were as follows:

Don't fear the future1. Saturation point

Social networking has been taking another upturn recently with more mainstream media uses coming to light. TV news channels using Google+ hangouts, more brands including references to Facebook pages in their offline advertisements and huge adoption of Twitter for ease of thought gathering are all-seeing an uptick in consumer interest, which I can only see increasing over the next 12 months.

Social is also starting to combine with our offline lives so that where we are, who we are with, what we are doing, etc., will all have new context and, perhaps, influence our behaviour. Products like Google Now in Android Jelly Bean are at the forefront of the next wave in social.

2. On Facebook

While MySpace wasn’t the first social network, it was the service that first saw widespread adoption and recognition but the Internet and technology as a whole was not in a position to match its potential. Social was still in its infancy and was isolated from the rest of our lives. Facebook has the advantage of existing in a social age where our lives are so closely tied to the Internet. Facebook may have to change and adjust but it is in a much stronger position where it can react to market pressures and stay relevant.

3. What's next?

Social adoption is virtually ubiquitous but the next challenge is social discovery. A simple feed or stream is no longer enough and users are requiring something more advanced. They are looking to actually discover useful information, interesting people and more via social. We are already seeing a shift away from the social graph and towards the interest graph and this will continue as users are more interested in using social as a source of news and information.

It was a privilege to be asked to take part and I may come back to these questions later but, for now, you can find the Ignite Social Media post here:

The Future of Social Networks as Interpreted by 21 Social Media Practitioners

Image by Andrew Coulter Enright

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