Social networks are rapidly changing the way we communicate and how we define ourselves.
For many, the line between the life you have in the real world and the one you have online is becoming blurred.
The social networks of today are just starting to become a major part of our daily interactions. For a majority of people, their online presence is held at arms length and is just an efficient way to stay in touch with an extended network of people.
The relationship we have with social networks is pretty basic. We tend to send the same information to a general audience covering big or minor events in our lives.
This is all changing.
Not only are we more connected but the business es we use and even the objects in our house and daily lives are to. Cars, appliances, and Tv’s are all wired in and are capable of distributing and providing information. Social networking will be worked into almost every aspect of our daily lives and information will not only be readily available but personalized to your needs.
What is driving this?
Opportunity: Social networks allow us to connect and access information in a fast and relevant way and companies are more flexible and quicker at addressing needs. It’s all about how social networks expand our reach and increase opportunity through access to information on a large scale.
Jeremiah Owyang from the Alimeter group sums up this evolution into five eras.
1) Era of Social Relationships: People connect to others and share
2) Era of Social Functionality: Social networks become like operating system
3) Era of Social Colonization: Every experience can now be social
4) Era of Social Context: Personalized and accurate content
5) Era of Social Commerce: Communities define future products and services
Currently we are somewhere in Era’s 3 through 5 but are steadily moving towards the Era of Social Commerce which Jeremiah describes as.
” Socially connected consumers will strengthen communities and shift power away from brands and CRM systems; eventually this will result in empowered communities defining the next generation of products.”
In the next 5 years we will see major developments and challenges concerning the following two subjects.
Unified ID or online identities.
The exchange of information between public and private
The problem with social media today is that it is too open. It’s difficult to unify your information in one place and conversely it’s difficult for marketers to build a clear idea of who you are. Most data is collected and analyzed on a macro scale or as an overview. As we move forward there will be a push from both consumers and businesses to unify that information. To create an identity that will connect data between multiple networks and web sites. Allowing you, your friends and companies to know your preferences and be able to personalize content that best suits you.
It’s already happening.
Companies have already figured this out and have started to utilize Facebook as the social net work of choice. Connecting using a social network instantly communicates who you are to the company and at the same time allows you to communicate with your friends. The social act of shopping is now possible start to finish in the Facebook environment.
Brian Solis does an excellent job describing this next stage for social networks.
For some, this is the dawn of an exciting new world but for others it’s a terrifying breach of privacy. Take for example this story of how Target knew a teenage girl was pregnant before her father did. When and how our data is used is still be explored and debated but there is no doubt that this new world exists and it will challenge who we are and how our society functions.