Where We Are Headed To
The future of social media is of great interest to a lot of people. A whole economy has developed out of social media. There are marketers, social media consultants, application developers etc. For these people, bread on the table is available due to the presence of social media. There also internet service providers, mobile telephone companies and other hardware technology developers whose technologies support the internet and social media by extension.
A question that many of these people have on their mind is whether social media is sustainable, or is it a fad? Will social media cease to exist any time in the near future? They want to know the answers to these questions so that their investment may be made from a more informed decision. Others only want to know if the income stream they currently enjoy will be there in the coming years.
What we know
To answer the question of the future of social media, we have to look at older technologies in the communications industry. Are there any technologies that became obsolete and got abandoned? Are there communication methods that were overtaken by others? In this regard, the telephone lines that ran overland close to railways come to mind. The telephone still exists, the telegram still exists; but they now utilize wireless technologies.
Another communication method whose example can guide us is the radio and television. The two are constantly evolving. From black-and-white television screens, and radio signals over the AM band only, we now have colour TV carried on the internet. Radio is on the internet too. The FM band led to increased civilian use of the radio.
There is early experimental work in long-distance wireless applications of Bluetooth technology, infra-red and light pulse communication. Research in some of these technologies is however in the infancy stages. Light pulse communication is already in use in fiber-optics. Maybe it will be successfully adopted into wireless form.
Already, there are communications software (Apps) that use near-range Bluetooth signals to create a network and carry messages. (See FireChat). Could this be the way to go? These technologies are a very tantalizing idea when we consider the future of social media. Well, they currently have less government interference and give the user more control. They are relatively cheap too. The question is in efficiency.
The future of social media
Drawing from all the examples we have seen, and guided by the available information from research in the future of communication technologies, we conclude that social media is here to stay. Social media is in its basic form just a communications method. It is one of many that exist. The key drivers of social media growth today are speed, low cost, the internet and availability on mobile.
If we remove any of these, we will see a shift in the way social media is used. It would also cause a different pattern of social media growth to emerge. There is very little likelihood in the way of social media death. Instead, we can explore possible changes in the way social media use will be.
One possible scenario is the discovery and proliferation of a communications technology that will be cheaper than the internet. As a broad platform of communication, social media will also evolve to utilize the technology of the time. In short, it will be Twitter on Bluetooth or Facebook on microwaves. Think of Instagram that utilizes light signals carried over-the air. Social media will be there, most likely riding on something that is not the internet.
Today, have a toast to Social Media; it is here to stay.