Social break-ups and fragmentation on the 2015 agenda, claims NorCal futurist

Guest Post by Ivan Serrano in Silicon Valley, California

Google has stopped selling Glass. Many will celebrate this announcement and others will not even notice. There is so much happening in the Bay Area these days, it’s almost impossible to keep up. But, as technophiles around the world know, it never pays to take your eyes off Silicon Valley for very long, especially if you want to keep your finger on the pulse of what might be happening next. Speaking of what’s happening next: what do we see happening in social trends over the next 12 months?

Ivan Serrano.

Ivan Serrano.

More of the same, but more of it!

There will be more mobile, Big Data will get bigger, viral will have its moments and kids will still be kids (they’ll just be kids with smartphones). If you’re interested in being part of the crowd and following the herd, social media will certainly provide plenty of opportunities for this kind of activity. On the other hand, if you are into collecting and analysing data about customer behaviours, social media will provide plenty of opportunities for brands to differentiate themselves and stand out from their competitors.

More Facebook Breakups

It’s called landlord leverage. Just because you have the password, doesn’t mean it’s really your social media account. The fact is everyone is leasing the real estate on their social media feeds by giving away personal information that corporations can capitalise on. As with landlords everywhere, your social media landlord is going to raise the rent when they want to, by giving you ever more ways to give away your personal information.

Facebook will continue to lead the march toward monetisation, its stock price will continue to rise and it will become an endless stream of display ads designed to look like posts from the best friend you’ve never actually met. This will lead to more breakups like the massively shared, liked, tweeted, plus-oned open breakup letter to Facebook from Eat24.

Some people will become mad-as-hell and decide they just aren’t going to take it anymore. But, plenty of people will just click the like button on all those ads right along with the posts featuring cute kitties and adorable puppies.

More Social Options

There will be more social networks than ever before, and this may not be a bad thing. On platforms like Facebook, everyone basically looks the same in your feed. But that just isn’t the way we interact with people in real life. In 2015 we will see the beginnings of the breakdown of this one-size-fits-all approach to social networking.

Part of the reason for this breakdown will be individuals wanting to segregate their social media feeds to reflect the groups they relate to in their lives. Additional pressure will come from brands actually starting to get a little more serious about customers so they can tailor the customer experience of the brand to be more personal.

In practice it will mean that brands will be moving a little closer to having an actual relationship with their customers by putting their social media followers in smaller groups. This may or may not be seen as a step in the right direction for everyone.

Entrepreneurs all over the world will take their lead from the venture capitalist funding trends in the Bay Area, and respond with a proliferation of social networks to meet the requirements of ever more specific niches with more specific needs. The resulting fracturing of markets into more targetable groups has advantages and disadvantages, and it will be up to marketers to sort out how to find their real prospects where they like to hang out online.

Long Live the Queen!

Content may still be king, but content can no longer do the heavy lifting all by its lonesome. Content without context won’t fly like it used to. In other words, there is now so much content being created that creating great content is no longer sufficient.

Great content is still a requirement, but it needs to be targeted more than ever. Context awareness will provide brands with more refined ways to get the right message to users at the right time. While this is not a new notion to many marketers, 2015 will see this wave really start to take shape and head toward the beach.

Hackers Will Have Their Way

Social media accounts have never been more vulnerable, and hackers will continue to take advantage of vulnerabilities in architectures and APIs. They will find ways to embarrass brands and individual in ways that may at times seem harmless, but in reality are blatant invasions of privacy.

Many of the new vulnerabilities will be with the wave of new social media platforms coming online. In 2014 hackers revealed vulnerabilities in a handful of social networks. Several of these were platforms that were supposed to take privacy protection to the next level. Needless to say, they didn’t. Expect to see more of this activity in 2015, potentially targeted toward your favorite brand.

2015 will see several initiatives that began in 2014 start to really mature. From in-network purchases to wearables that post to social media accounts to more social media in recruiting, we will see social media networks maturing and changing the behaviors of millions of people across the globe.

As with all trends, though, it is the outliers that will rule at the end of the day. The real impacts of tomorrow will come from the little blips that aren’t even on the radar of trend watchers. If the past is an accurate indicator of the future, many of these yet undefined innovations will come from the Bay Area. If you’re a tech-watcher, it pays to keep your eyes and ears trained toward the Golden Gate, wherever you are in the world.

Ivan Serrano is a Northern Californian technology aficionado specialising in Bay Area and Silicon Valley brands.

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