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The Future Of Social Media Is...

Social media people slide

What is the future of social media?

It’s different things to different people, of course — corporations, regular Joes, celebrities, governments, etc.

We asked more than a dozen entrepreneurs, pundits, academics, and avid social media participants to continue the open-ended sentence: “The future of social media is…”

Their answers are interesting, informative, and occasionally very funny.

Dennis Crowley, co-founder and CEO of Foursquare

'The future of social media... is that the social graph becomes so ubiquitous in everything we do that we stop using the term 'social media'. Just about everything is more interesting when you start to realise how your friends are connected to it: who's been here, who's going where, who's experienced what, who's watching / listening to / reading what. Early adopters are already taking advantage of this. For example, I open foursquare after work to see where my friends are going for drinks, or I open it at restaurants to see what my friends say to order. Foursquare's new Radar feature buzzes your phone as you walk around to call attention to things your friends find interesting. This will happen with TV ('10 of your friends are watching right now!'), and it's already happening to music with things like Spotify and Facebook. Foursquare is hustling to make it happen with all the places you encounter in the real world.'

Follow @dens on Twitter

'The future of social media is... an integral part of television. Just as people have connected and talked about TV shows like TODAY for 60 years, viewers will continue to use new technology to share and react to what they're watching. From real time alerts as news is breaking to immediate feedback from our viewing audience, social media has provided a platform where people around the world can contribute directly to the content of TODAY by submitting ideas and, in turn, we can gauge the reaction to the stories we are covering.‬'

Follow @sarahaines on Twitter

Mark Cuban, Chairman of HDNet and owner of the Dallas Mavericks

'The future of Social Media is multi-dimensional. Each 'face' will correspond with an public/interest/career/personal area of your life and we will share or intersect that 'face' with others. Some will be automated with rules we define. Others will be manual. Some will be fully automated (when I drive past Joe's house make sure to leave him a hello message on his digital video inbox...You know normal stuff like that.'

Follow @mcuban on Twitter

Mike Monteiro, hilarious Twitter persona @Mike_FTW and Design Director at Mule Design Studio

'The future of social media is lying. As more and more services close their grip upon who we know, where we are, and what we're doing, we'll come to the sobering realisation that we're just not that interesting. We'll create personas to travel the world, meet interesting people, solve crimes and rescue kittens from burning houses. 'Who you are' has never been as interesting as 'who you pretend to be'. The future of social media is the frontier of a new fiction, and one that we can be an active, and sometimes unwilling participant in. We don't want real identities, we want really good identities.'

Follow @Mike_FTW on Twitter

Jeffrey Zeldman, Designer, Writer, and Publisher

'The future of social media is ...

UBIQUITOUS. It will be baked into everything we use, from desktop software, to mobile and the web, to the thermostat and phone in our hotel room.

MONOLITHIC. While the web and its low barrier to entry will continue to enable the creation of small, diverse communities, and while small teams will continue to create wonderful social niche products, eventually (and fairly soon) two or three services/brands will come out on top and will be the channels through which 90% of social commerce takes place. We can all guess which three services these will be--the pieces are already in motion--but it's still early enough that we might be surprised.

SMARTER. It is becoming more seamlessly integrated into traditionally 'private' activities such as banking and shopping, but it is still new enough, poorly integrated enough, and riddled with sufficient usability problems to currently be a niche or vanguard activity (i.e. done by web and social media geeks, not the public at large). That will change. It will change faster if leading stores, banks, and so on work with real design and UX teams to integrate social experiences in ways that enhance the overall shopping/banking experience.

INVISIBLE. The phrase 'social media,' already used only by a small subsection of the public (tech journalists, consultants, investors, unemployed designers) will fall into complete disuse as social media becomes smarter, monolithic, and ubiquitous -- the background noise of all our lives, as little noticed as the electrical hum in our homes.'

Follow @zeldman on Twitter

Gina Bianchini, founder & CEO of Mightybell, co-founder of Ning

'The future of social media is…moving from passively sitting back and watching what other people are doing to actively becoming more engaged, active, and interesting through new social applications that encourage people to think bigger then learn and act together.'

Follow @ginab on Twitter

Chad Hurley, CEO of Delicious, co-founder of YouTube

'Social media will be the main engine of discovery, giving us the ability to find the signal within the noise. As people's networks and interactions expand, massive data sets will generate predictive models that will know what you want before you look for it.'

Follow @Chad_Hurley on Twitter

Mike Davidson, CEO of Newsvine

'The future of social media is…using algorithms and intelligence to simultaneously shield us from the 99% of information we don't need to know and expose us to the 1% we not only want to know but need to know. Post-modern news reading is going to be all about consuming less. Once the technology gets good enough, everyone will feel like they have their own set of presidential advisors filling them in and letting them get on with their lives.'

Follow @mikeindustries on Twitter

Dae Mellencamp, CEO of Vimeo

'The future of social media is the loss of the distinction between media and social interaction online. Mass media and social media will be seamlessly integrated across devices and platforms to offer relevant, dynamic, personalised experiences for people anywhere. Discoverability and the import of editorial curation will not be lost, but rather inherently incorporated into the environments for richer and more customised experiences.'

Follow @dmellencamp on Twitter

Sam Altman, Co-founder and CEO of Loopt

'Mobile phones are becoming extensions of ourselves. They know more about us than almost anything else--the apps we use, messages we send, things we search for, and people we talk to say a huge amount about who we are. The future of mobile is about how well your phone knows you and knows what you need before you do.'

Follow @sama on Twitter

Professor William Uricchio, Professor & Director of M.I.T. Comparative Media Studies

'The future of social media is ... rooted in the past! We've always been social, and after a century of turning our eyes to the heavy industry of media, we are learning again how to turn to one another. Conditions have changed, of course. Social media offer us malleable identities, global reach, instantaneous impact. We are beginning to see new forms of aggregate behaviour. Understanding comes next, and with it, an appreciation that this newly enabled collectivity has implication and edge. The future of social media is, in a profound way, civic.'

Mike Lazerow, Founder, Chairman and CEO at Buddy Media

'The future of social media is the core of a massive shift online from a search and intent-based world to a social, people-based world. The last three years were about the consumer side of social platforms, as we watched Facebook, Zynga and Twitter grow exponentially. The next three years will about the enterprise side of social, and how companies engage and grow their businesses by tapping into these massive platforms.

It's an era where customers, vendors and partners are no longer anonymous segments that you 'source,' 'manage' and 'market to.' They are people. People you connect with. Talk to. Advocate for. Listen to. And if you're lucky, they sell for you, solve problems for you, defend you, listen to you and build your business for you, one conversation at a time, while you sleep.'

Follow @lazerow on Twitter

Charlene Li, Partner & Founder of Altimeter Group

'The future of social media is...

...going to be like air. It will be anywhere and everywhere you need and want it to be. It will be seamlessly built into our everyday experiences, rather than shoe horned into the corners of websites. And like air, if it isn't around, you will feel like you can't truly breath and live.'

Follow @charleneli on Twitter

Ryan Holmes, CEO of HootSuite

'The future of social media is the future of global communication. As the most prolific communication medium of all time, social media is as naturally disruptive as it is a bridge for international organisations. We've seen social networks explode as people and businesses around the world find a voice that resonates throughout the Globe. Expect the future of social media to disrupt traditional media methods, and help both commerce and culture flourish. This all from the tips of your fingers, or a tool that fits in the palm of your hand.'

Follow @invoker on Twitter

Dr. Ryota Kanai, Researcher at UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience

'The future of social media is real. People tend to view online communication as virtual, but social media is becoming more and more real in our social life. With the development of new technology and mobile devices, the boundaries between virtual and real communication will become meaningless, especially for the new generation growing up in the current environment. Success of social media will hinge on its ability to offer social environments that are compatible with the way our brain processes social information.'

Follow @kanair on Twitter

Pete Cashmore, Founder & CEO of Mashable

'The future of social media is...mobile, local and about forming implicit rather than explicit connections. Social networks need to understand where I am, where my friends are, and how different connections become relevant at different times. Social networking needs to be push rather than pull.'

Follow @petecashmore on Twitter

Howard Lindzon, Startup Investor & Co-Founder of StockTwits

'The future of social media is already here. It's about sharing, curation, aggregation and finding new voices.

Everyone wants to publish if they are given the right platform to create it.

I do believe that sharing horizontally might have peaked and facebook and Twitter seem to be the 800 pound gorilla's, but the vertical social space is about to explode. That might not be as exciting for valuations in start-up land but it will mean better business models and a move on to other areas for swarming angel investors and venture capitalists. That would be a good thing.'

Follow @howardlindzon on Twitter

Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit

'The future of social media is one day not calling them 'social media.'

When Steve & I launched Reddit in 2005, I don't recall that phrase existing, we just wanted to build the most efficient system for finding great content online. As competitors have come and gone, reddit now stands alone in what was once the category 'social news' (pro-tip: consider just putting social in front of whatever industry you want to change) and I suspect this is a model for what's to come with the rest of 'social media.'

These media are just new ways of communicating, which humans have been doing for quite some time. Eventually we'll be over the novelty of 'social' because it'll be the default.'

Follow @kn0thing on Twitter

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