Not necessarily, but it seems that we’re heading in a new direction. Perhaps it’s that we’re tired of the way social media exists in a more basic form. This is evident in the evolution of social channels. It’s already happened a few times over:
Remember when LiveJournal was all the rage? Think of how we blog now, in terms of both the uses/benefits of blogging as well as the technological capabilities.
What about the good old days of MySpace? It was mainstream. Now it’s fairly outdated and one might argue that it only serves a legitmate purpose for bands.
And let us not forget that Facebook was once only for college students. I remember only being able to access it with the .edu email address. It was called “The Facebook” and had the bare minimum of capabilities it has today. If Zuck didn’t continue to add features, Facebook would’ve ended up just like MySpace did.
Why does this happen?
It’s human nature. Once we’ve conquered a technology, we’re ready to move on to something else. Once we’ve exhausted one form of social interaction, we’re ready for the next. Is it boredom? Do we simply outsmart these tools? Or, maybe it’s just that inherent need to try something new. The attraction to the shiny, new, fancy tool out there—whatever it is that starts with the early adopters and trickles down to the masses.
That being said, are we getting sick of social media as it is today? Where are we going to go from here?
There are a few trends that have validity:
It’s No Longer Enough to Just Be Social
Social media in and of itself is no longer enough. It has to fit into our on-the-go lifestyle. We want updates to our smartphones in real-time. We want to stay constantly connected. And what’s more, we want our location to be included so we can tie together the social and mobile with where we are at the present moment.
This has been referred to as SoLoMo. The term immediately caught my attention. We’re heading to a point where people are not going to be satisfied with just one of those. What’s the point of social media if you can’t take it with you on the go? Why check-in somewhere if no one else is? Is there a reason to share your current location if it doesn’t provide a benefit to you? And who uses a smartphone without all of their fancy social apps with geolocation tracking? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose?
We Want to Filter Everything
Because the social media market has become saturated, it’s just as cluttered as the rest of the web. Naturally, we need a filter for this mess. Filtering applies to both content and people. Apps like GroupMe and Beluga, for instance, enable us to simple keep our communication (AKA social life) within a select group of people. Beluga even describes itself as “instant, intimate and simple.”
Others, such as Storify, enable us to filter out news content to create a story based on our favorite information shared via social media (once again, something we hand pick).
This might be the biggest indication that we’re tired of social media as it is. At first it was about connecting with a large magnitude of people and information, now we’re looking for ways to scale it back.
It’s All about the Game
Gamification, or applying a “game theory” to non-game environments, is becoming popular topic of discussion among social media marketers. Why? It goes back to the same point about our human nature and why we interact the way we do with these social sites.
So why does gamification matter? I’ve heard many explanations, but this one by Joey Strawn might be my favorite:
“The whole purpose of gamifying your marketing is to create a stronger sense of engagement for your target market. Well, what better way to get people engaged than created a ‘heightened, pleasurable sense of immersion’ for them? If you can harness this power for your campaigns, you’ll have people living in your space and telling their friends about it.”
The rest of his post goes into more detail about how basic mechanisms that are a part of the basic gaming process (think: video games) are being used by popular social networks: Collecting, points, feedback, exchanges and customization.
The bottom line here is, once again, that “social” is not enough anymore. We need factors like the ones listed above (the ones that keep us addicted to playing games) to keep us entertained and interested. It might be the simple act of competition. Perhaps you’re the type that always seeks ways to express individuality on social sites, making you someone that will get bored with a social network that limits your creative capabilities. Others might relish the reward that a social network can provide.
There is something deeper going on with social media than just the interactions and connections with others. Yes, that’s what will always be at the core of social media, but it’s evolving. We’re looking for something more.
What will be next?
[CC Image Credit: Social Networking Widgets]