Social media is a buzzword used to describe a wide variety of online sites and services. Pretty much anything that allows the end user to contribute comments or content would qualify as a form of social media. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google+ are just some of these examples.
My daily routine has gone from simply checking email and perhaps updating my own personal website to keeping up with Google+, Twitter, Facebook, and even YouTube. At first, the idea of having as many followers and/or friends on these networks as possible appeared to be the way to go. Like many things, more appeared to be better.
With the upside of having a longer list of contacts comes a number of downsides that users are beginning to feel in force. My Google+ stream is increasingly becoming cluttered with nonsense and repeat posts. The same might be said for Facebook, where friends and relatives feel it’s imperative that the world know about every party and social woe affecting their lives.
Smaller Social Groups over Mass Inclusion
After Gnomies was introduced, I suddenly found myself face-to-face with a much more appealing social experience. A closed community that consisted of vetted members, each with a vested interest in the success of the group. This smaller group enables its members to seek and receive advice from others on a personal level without every post being met with spam and nonsense answers like, “You should have bought a Mac.”
Frankly, as much of a supporter of social media as I might be, I find myself in agreement with a prediction Jerry Hobby made during a webinar a couple of weeks ago where he stated that social media habits would evolve from friending everyone and anyone that would connect with you to a more selective process involving shared interests and associations.
We already see this type of interaction taking place in professional networks like LinkedIn where friends and colleagues are added based on their current association with you rather than just because they happen to accept your friend request. People tend to be more selective of the people they connect with there as your connections become part of your professional reputation.
Google+ has further supported this theory by introducing Circles, a feature that Facebook has integrated to some degree with selective sharing and groups. Essentially, you have your circles of friends that meet particular common grounds with you. You know one group of people enjoys and frequently shares content relating to a subject that you enjoy hearing about and another circle might be made up of artists and photographers. You have the ability to see only what one circle or another has to share, and send your content out to specific groups so that you don’t annoy people who don’t really demonstrate any interest at all in the subject.
Like any new thing in someone’s life, we tend to overuse it at first as the novelty of it is at its peak. After a few years, it’s only natural that someone’s interest in sharing every detail of their lives should wane down to just the important things. Auto-sharing services like ifttt are currently being widely used to enable someone to post something once and have it spread to various social networks at any given time. These tools can be useful time savers, but rarely encourage engagement on any meaningful level.
The folks that do continue to overshare can be easily scaled back on follower’s news streams. Google+ has added such a feature, enabling users to determine how much of their general news feed would consist of varying circles. I’m able to scale back the amount of updates I receive from the LEGO community while increasing the consistency of updates from my coworkers or real-world friends.
Facebook has been abbreviating updates to the most recent one from any given source. Even third-party sharing applications are grouped and stacked into a single space on your news feed. This feature may frustrate some content publishers.
Google has started integrating updates made by users of its Google+ social network into search results. When I search for a particular topic, I’ll generally see links and sites that people in my Google+ circles have shared and liked before anything else. It is one way Google has attempted to sort through the clutter of the Web and bring links that might interest you to the forefront.
We can only expect this functionality to continue to integrate into YouTube and other search engines as social media continues to intermingle with our favorite sites.
What do You Think?
The purpose of this article is to provoke thought among our readers and find out what they believe the social Web might look like in coming years. A lot has changed since Twitter launched half a decade ago, and last year’s introduction of Google+ only solidifies the correlation between social networks and the modern Web.
What do you think the future will bring to social media?