After sharing The Four Horsemen video (predictions about Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple) on LinkedIn, I was asked by one of my connections if I would be willing to join him in preparing a blog that wants to predict the future of social media. Although I think it's a great idea (him who holds the power of information is always ahead), I declined, simply because I'm no social media expert and more important, not an analyst. I consider that a task like that depends on plenty of research and educated guesses and I am missing the research and the educated parts.
But that doesn't stop me to express a subjective, sort of uninformed, simply based on gut opinion. And that's what this is, the future of MY social media!
So here we are, Facebook has 1.4 billion monthly active users and Google plus is somewhere at 300 million, same as Instagram and Twitter.
I don't think there is any doubt that Facebook is the king of the social jungle, as it has the biggest amount of users who keep coming back every single day. If initially Facebook was only about connecting its users (bait) in a very easy way, its goal was (of course) to use its users as a steady revenue source. In order to do that, they had to diversify, see games, ads, news, search, events, locations, chat, basically whatever it takes for Facebook to become the new Google. If you could find all the information you need inside it, then there's no reason for you to leave and they can make more money from your activity and your personal information. And precisely the large amount of users allowed Facebook to increase ads prices when everyone else is lowering them.
Doesn't that warm your heart and make you go and share even more of your stuff? And this gets me to talk about the content on Facebook. Most of the content I see from my friends on Facebook is useless pointless utter crap (sorry guys, you know I love you, but...). And I mentioned that it's the content I see, because Facebook filters the content it gives you in your timeline based on your behaviour, so maybe that's the reason for what I see on my timeline.
Will Facebook still be part of the future of social media? Unless something else more innovative and as catchy will appear, then Facebook will be around for a long time. And even if Facebook decreases in users, their other services like WhatsApp and Instagram are only warming up. Users are lazy, they don't want to change services, especially to move to a network with an empty timeline (check Google+).
For me Facebook is merely a Yellow Pages of my current and past connections, I rarely post anything or interact with my network. Simply because I find it a waste of time and lack of value, clearly Facebook won't play a very important role in the future of my social media.
While they don't have the numbers of Facebook, smaller specialised networks make more sense to me. I became more active on Twitter because I was able to easily interact with people that share my interests. You could do the same on Facebook (you can follow people on Facebook without being their friends), but then you would have to filter the trash from the value and you would still be facing Facebook's censorship.
Even though the internal mechanisms are maybe pretty much the same, specialised networks reveal different sides of its members. How many kitty pictures did you see in your LinkedIn timeline? Well, except if you're a veterinary, I would expect not many. I believe that specialised networks and communities have much more impact in their niche, than a giant like Facebook does, simply because there's less noise.
Have a look at Reddit, Hacker News, StackOverflow and more recently Product Hunt. Their user numbers might not be counted in billions or even millions, but the traction the content posted in their network has is amazing. So if I would want to promote a product/an album/whatever I would push it first to the specialised networks because that's where you will get the best feedback and engagement.
In the end, it's all about the value you get from using one platform or another and you have to consider that well, don't look only at user numbers. And if none of the existing medias don't make sense, build your own! There's a good guide out there on how to build your own community, inspired by the success of Product Hunt and Reddit.
The Four Horsemen video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XCvwCcEP74Q
source for users data: ExpandedRamblings
source for Facebook revenue: http://adage.com/article/digital/facebook-s-mobile-revenue-hits-2-5-billion-prices-soar/296869/
how your content is filtered by Facebook, Google and others: http://www.thefilterbubble.com/
Hacker News: https://news.ycombinator.com/
Product Hunt: http://www.producthunt.com/
traction: read about one of the stories from Product Hunt: How I launched the #2 most upvoted product of all time on Product Hunt.
good guide: http://www.communitybuildingguide.com/