Each time I read the newspaper or log on to my Facebook and Twitter accounts, I am bombarded by new trends or issues, whether they be about fashion, business, SEO, finance, travel, or even art.
But out of all these observable changes in society, none is more obvious, rapid, or unpredictable than the trends in social media. Social Media continues to go beyond our expectations, challenges our current knowledge of online marketing, and sets new standards for effective networking.
If you still have to catch up on your reading about “trending topics,” these current issues will give you a good head start:
Years ago, a major pastime was watching TV. TV time was a way to bond with your family and friends—talking to the person sitting beside you, discussing the shows you were watching, and sharing a laugh or two.
But today, the television is being “rebooted” to make way for social media. For example, the famous British show The X Factor encourages viewers to vote for the best contestant via Twitter and uses other platforms to market its contestants. Essentially, this encourages audiences to log on to their social media accounts while watching TV. Other major channels are doing the same by featuring hashtag terms beside their channel logo, inviting viewers to “Follow us on Twitter” or “Like us on Facebook” and by posting polls or updates on their YouTube channels.
Additionally, TV manufacturers are developing high-end flat-screen monitors that show dual or even triple screens featuring cable channels and Internet tabs. In a gist, you can watch TV and browse the Web at the same time.
And now a new network, Get Glue, which is similar to Foursquare except it targets media, allows users to “check-in” to their favorite TV shows and acquire stickers that show the world what programs they favor.
These examples show the rise in socially integrated TV shows, which will no doubt double in the next few years.
The Mobile Evolution
Back in the day, the most convenient form of communication was the telephone. It was fast, simple, and cheap. Today, telephones are fast becoming obsolete. Why?
Internet technology has paved the way for better, faster, and more global means of interaction. First came e-mail. Although not everybody had it initially, email was always very convenient. Then came mobile phones. Although they have been in existence for many years now, the development of these compact and sleek gadgets heralded the total domination of small and portable communication gizmos. After mobile phones, laptops, portable Wi-Fi routers, tablets, and smartphones conquered much of the world. And mind you, this happened in just a matter of years, not decades.
Digital technology’s rapid progression helped boost membership in early social media sites like Friendster and Myspace, though these two are presently failing to get as much buzz as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
As a result, major social media platforms have developed new ways to integrate their programs into digital technology. Most notably, applications for Android and Apple have flourished, particularly because audiences demand easier and more convenient forms of socializing.
The Game Changers
When I was a kid, I had the privilege of playing ultra-fun video games such as Galaga, Super Mario, Donkey Kong Land, and The Sims. Even just talking about them brings back wonderful memories.
But returning to the point, those were the ancestors of today’s more-renowned games such as World of Warcraft, Halo, Mario Cart Racing, Assassin's Creed, Diablo III, and Defense of the Ancients.
Now what do all these have in common? Apart from being awesome, interactive, and challenging, these video games all have an online battle mode that allows players from all over the world to compete with each other. And let’s not forget the thousands of puzzles, adventures, treasure hunts, simulations, and other kinds of games currently available, some of which are hosted at social media sites.
In fact, there are now hundreds, if not thousands, of social apps for browsers and mobile devices, virtually making it simple for users to play their favorite games alone, with friends, or with contacts from around the world even while on-the-go.
Growing up, I had diaries and journals where I wrote my thoughts and insights about trivial things. Today, we have blogs, statuses, tweets, pins, videos, pictures, memes, and even podcasts that publish our opinions and ideas to the world.
This is the basic premise of social sharing.
It is not just about broadcasting useful information to an audience, but about sharing your reactions to a particular issue or your suggestions about a certain problem. Public interaction is a powerful and unstoppable force, and nobody knows this better than social media channels.
In a good way, these social media sites are exploiting our basic human need to connect with other people. They present us with a convenient way to share and access information, conversing with people who share similar interests and socializing with a broad audience.
“We all have a brand.”
Everyone using the Web can utter this mantra. Whether you are a personal blogger, a reviewer, an Internet junkie, a social media user, or a website owner, we all own brands that need to be marketed globally.
This is where social media giants help us. In fact, just by having an account with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and others, our visibility on the Web increases dramatically—more so if we update regularly, interact with other members, and enhance our profiles.
Plus, this targeted way of promoting your brand makes it easier to get feedback from your audience—find out what they need, ask for recommendations, and advertise a new line of products and/or services.
Whether social media will continue to flourish or pave the way for a more modern and convenient way of interacting, we can never truly know. But with these trends as our clues, the latter is more likely.
How about you? Where do you see social media in 2013?
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