I have been thinking about how social media will evolve in the next few years. It’s hard to accurately predict because in all honesty what can top Twitter and Facebook and now FourSquare and Gowalla? I know I can’t foresee technology that will overtake these sites anytime soon. The technology is superior and now it’s time for media brands to use it to their advantage and start creating ecosystems of users who thrive on real-time interaction.
It’s funny because traditional media sites were forced to respect new media or die, so they implemented the obligatory blogs into their mix with just the right balance of seasoned and fresh voices and forged a presence on Twitter and Facebook, but, sadly, that’s not enough.
In the coming years smart media brands will create real-time niche social networks for their users. That is, these sites will allow their readers to post in real-time like we do every day on Twitter, and will also offer location apps on their site, so we can pinpoint where we are and shout out what we’re doing. The Huffington Post is doing a decent job of moving this concept forward now, but it’s still quite clunky and only shows real- time search results from Twitter.
I foresee social networks and media sites that now only offer commenting and sharing become havens of real-time conversations and noise, but with a very niche or even local flavor. And as smart phones become more advanced we’ll even be able to insert real-time video and audio into these conversations while we’re on the go without having to use MMS.
I can see a parenting brand creating a Twitter-like social network specifically for moms that’s smart enough to attract the power users who are already on Twitter with location and chat capabilities.
We’ve already begun creating niche ecosystems with Twitter lists. Now I think brands will take the Twitter list concept and make it huge to keep eyeballs on their sites.