Each new year offers new possibilities, and considering that so much happened in 2012, it’s a good time to think about what the next twelve months will bring us. There are so many different areas that you could cover, but here are what I believe will be the trends that will define social media in 2013.
The Social Media Trends That Will Emerge In 2013
1. The Return Of Location
Location services have been around for a while, but 2013 will be the year where the major players will place a greater focus on user data. Granted we have Foursquare, Facebook places and Google Local as the trendsetters, but the real challenge is to tie this data into other services like maps, businesses and images.
A perfect example of the direction this is headed is with Instagram. By introducing geotagging to its service, a potential area of revenue is to take these tagged photos and offer them to said businesses for a price. The wording in its new terms of service suggests that these would take the form of sponsored stories and what better way of achieving this than through geotagging?Google has done something similar, but all of this would tie into social search which is still an area that has yet to find its feet.
Since most of the services tie into Foursquare, the potential for it to be acquired by either Apple, Facebook or Google is relatively high. If it seems unlikely, consider that Instagram was purchased initially for $1 billion (later to be $715 million), a service that still has yet to monetise the service. Foursquare, on the other hand, has a significant amount of data and some revenue streams to make it a more attractive prospect. If this does come to pass, things could get very interesting indeed
2. The Reclaiming Of Data
An aspect of social media that tends to be forgotten shortly after a major privacy outburst occurs, the shift that will occur isn’t going to be pushed by the sites themselves (although every now and again, there are new privacy features added), it will be users becoming more aware of their rights and what data they’re freely giving up to these sites.
Sites will also adjust their privacy settings in a minor way to help appease the masses, but third-party sites such as Privacyfix will grow in importance as users have such details presented to them in a way that’s easy to digest.
Another area that will quickly grow in popularity will be disposable content apps like Snapchat and Facebook Poke. The uptake of the latter has given the idea some attention globally (although its popularity has fallen just as fast as it grew), but the secret to its success will be imagery, which is something that the majority of messaging and image apps can incorporate. This ties into the next point.
3. Improved Image Editors
Considering how powerful images are in getting a message across, it’s no surprise that this trend is well underway. Already Facebook, Twitter and Flickr have introduced their own version of Instagram filters, but the next batch of improvements will expand upon this and provide even greater levels of customisation for users.
Google’s acquisition of Snapseed back in September is a more realistic view of where the sector is going, proving more tools for users to customise and edit their images before posting. These apps will be designed for mobile since that’s where the majority of images are uploaded, but it will be no surprise to see the more popular apps like Twitter and Facebook camera go beyond the usual filter and crop photo options it currently offers.
4. The Focus On Retention, Not Growth
Well, for Facebook anyway. Twitter and LinkedIn still have a considerable distance to go before they come close to Facebook’s one billion members, but 2013 will see the social media giant shift its focus on retention instead of growth. The reason for this is because the site has reached or is close to saturation point in a number of territories such as the U.S. Therefore, a growth strategy will no longer apply for these areas.
That doesn’t mean that Facebook won’t continue to grow – there are still significant opportunities to grow in places such as Asia and South America – but the next few moves Facebook makes will place a greater focus on the user experience and makes sure its current members stay.
5. The Foundations For Social Search
While social media has made considerable progress over the last few years, search is the only area that hasn’t kept up. It’s not that it’s terrible, but they’re ill-equipped to handle all the data that these sites have. The reason for this problem is that these sites have vast amounts of data, but no real way of filtering it to find the information you want. The search engines powering the majority of these sites are primitive and can barely do basic searches, and heaven help you if you want to find a year old tweet manually.
Probably the only site that has the potential to hit the ground running is Google+. The introduction of communities, provided there’s a decent uptake over the next few months, could give G+ some much needed context to data, making it easier for more relevant search results to appear.
2013 won’t be the year that social search will emerge, but instead the time that these companies will place the foundation blocks for a much improved social search engine. It’ll be a while before it’s truly cracked, but when it is, expect it to transform the way we find and consume data. In the meantime, expect regular updates on how X site is working on a new search engine.
6. The Rise Of Augmented Reality
It’s been around for years, but augmented reality (AR) hasn’t really entered into the public conscious. AR displays and campaigns do impress people when they’re displayed in public places, but very few encourage them to take out their phones and discover a new experience. AR is more versatile than QR codes and provided marketers don’t use it as a fancy way to access a website, getting the public on board should be easier than ever. The majority of people are moving away from feature phones to smartphones so why not put that technology to good use.
The only caveat behind this will be the steps needed to go from opening your phone to activating AR. This and how brands decide to use the technology will be a stumbling block. However, at the very least, more brands will experiment with the technology, but how they experiment will determine whether it will properly catch on or not.
This is a cross-post from simplyzesty.com