Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Predictions for the future of social networking

.... on the future of social networking from the consumer point of view, based on Cheskin Added Value’s research in this area:

Multiple linked social networks: We will be able to customise our social networks for different purposes, and the one-size-fits-all Facebook-type network will decline. We’ll have networks of college friends, real personal friends, personal acquaintances, business contacts, fellow book lovers, Zynga game players, neighbors, foodies, etc. And we won’t have to log into multiple different networks with different rules to make this possible.

Track responses across social networks: We’ll be able to easily track and find posts across different networks and email services. Right now, I communicate with people on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, my Android phone texts, work email, and personal email. It’s hard to remember which service I need to respond to in order to get back to someone.

Reduction of information overload: It will be easier to get relevant articles, blogs, and posts networked to us. It’s more than recommendations from our social graph, because right now that social graph is way too broad. I don’t want to read about desalinization plants, just because a friend is into that topic. Even on Twitter, it’s hard to reduce the amount of input to something I can keep up with. I have to cut off whole people, rather than narrow the topics I want to hear about. Again, this is the holy grail of social networking – to be able to mine our contacts and interests to get the information we want easily. Social networking should reduce information overload, not add to it. The promise of the future is a much improved Stumbleupon.

Ability to have real conversations: We’ll have networks, especially business-related, that have vibrant conversations, the way FriendFeed used to. People commonly have this on Facebook about personal interests, but I haven’t found anything that works well for business, perhaps excepting those uber-connected folks who can get responses quickly. Twitter’s 140 character limit doesn’t work very well for real conversations.

Social networking sites will reshape the future of search: With Facebook potentially rising to challenge the dominance of Google’s users and traffic, and/or integrating to provide greater synergistic value. Social search will become a core part of search, as the social web expands in volume and value.