The social landscape in 2012

2012At this time of year many blogs like to make predictions for the year ahead. I've always resisted the urge (perhaps wisely) to do so in the past but this year thought I'd have a stab at it.

Some of my posts are already partly predictive in nature as I will, from time to time, outline what I think could/should happen with regards to certain services. Sometimes I'm right, sometimes I'm wide of the mark but, even when wrong, I believe the thought process and discussion the idea creates is just as valuable.

So let's have a look:

Twitter

I have already suggested that the new #discover tab will iterate relatively quickly in order to better facilitate the discovery of content and people - it is all an extension of "follow your interests" that was introduced with the last redesign, #newtwitter. So, where it is heading?

  1. Twitter is seeking to convert consumer into producers so must get them tweeting. The #discover tab is the ideal opportunity so will surely make it easier to respond to a "topic" rather than individual people or tweets. I envisage normal tweeting functionality (replies, retweets, etc.) Will appear more prominently on content within the #discover tab.
  2. Personalisation has been an increasing trend in 2011 and with Facebook continually tweaking their algorithms to display more relevant content in the news feed looks set to be here to stay. I do not doubt that Twitter will introduce behavioural analytics of their own so that #discover can filter information for us. We will, therefore, be provided with a selection of relevant content based on our interests as well as the "popular" items we already receive.
  3. Twitter keeps joining force with new partners (the latest being WordPress) to enable the display of external content inline within the stream. I suggest there is the possibility that #discover could evolve into a more Flipboard style UI containing embedded media (rather than just links) making "commenting" more obvious, instant and simple.

Google+

Google+ will obviously continue to slowly seep into all aspects of the Google ecosystem but in order to be taken seriously the "social layer" must get greater exposure and emphasis.

There must be a move to enable interaction in situ at the source service instead of needing to jump back to Plus. Comments will become bidirectional - syncing and appearing at both the source and the stream regardless of where they are made.

Only then will it be truly a social layer and not just a collection of, exceedingly functional, share buttons.

The social web

I can't help but think that the social web will become less network dependent over the next year. The existence of tools like engag.io will take us away from relying on specific social networks per se - instead we will just connect to people regardless of where they are and what the method.

A perfect illustration of this in an early form is Apple's iMessage: one application which chooses the most appropriate method of connection for the particular contact.

It is, perhaps, a bold statement but the "unified social inbox" will become a big part of how we work.

Over to you

What features do you feel will help to shape the social landscape in the next 12 months?

Why not discuss this post at Google+?

Image by shaza mahmoud1

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