Five years ago, I was still the owner of an active MySpace account, had never heard of a thing called Instagram and my Facebook still had a wall. I didn’t even own an Internet-enabled device to access any of these things, which today are all available on apps that are opened multiple times a day.
A lot can happen in five years. Mike McGrail, owner of Velocity Digital, recently blogged about his predictions for the future of social networks, which certainly cannot be measured or proven, just pondered. Today, the biggest names in social platforms are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, tumblr, LinkedIn and YouTube. Will they all still exist five years from now? Will we even still even call it “social media?”
Social networking will still be around five and even 10 years from now. It’s the most popular online activity, with more than 22 percent of time online spent on channels like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
In 2017, LinkedIn will be the oldest of these networks at 14 years old. Facebook will be 13, YouTube will be 12, Twitter will be 11, tumblr will be 10, Instagram and Pinterest will be seven and Google+ will be six; however, age is just a number. Take Pinterest: It’s only been around since 2010 and it has already reached 11.7 million unique U.S. visitors in January 2012, making it the fastest site ever to break through the 10 million unique visitor mark.
Further, when CEOs were asked for their predictions for the next three to five years, they said they foresee a 61-percent decrease in traditional media being used as a customer interaction method, while collectively predicting a 256 percent increase in social media for the same benefit.
Image via The Social Skinny
Personally, I think Facebook has been on a plateau for a while, but there just hasn’t been a strong competitor to step up to the plate and pull the user base. Google tried with Google+, but like a fellow TMC employee put it, if that’s where my friends are, that’s where I’ll be. Facebook is a single location where my friends update their status, photos and life happenings. Even though there are other outlets for these (Twitter for status updates, Instagram for photo uploads), I’m still seeing Facebook as basically a home base for all of these networks.
So while the purpose of Facebook in five years is questionable, I’m positive the network will still exist and have active users in 2017. Businesses will still be using it as a marketing platform and using it as a portal to get through and communicate with customers. In five years, Twitter will still be one of the top names in social media, but I’m interested to see if the format, design and features will still be relatively the same. It’s proven the significant impact of real-time updates, which will only become more prominent and mainstream for news and events.
I’m not a strong LinkedIn user today and I don’t really see myself becoming one in the next five years, but people will always need to network. I have an account, I keep it updated, but that’s it. I don’t spend much time on the site unless I am specifically looking for a person or company. On the other hand, there are very active users who participate in discussions, update regularly, apply for jobs and keep up with hundreds of connections. The site has gone through minimal updates over the years, so maybe we’ll see some features and added resources over the next five years.
Right before posting this, I got my very first message about a job opportunity without an application on LinkedIn. The thing everyone always told us would never happen did: they came to me. If employers or recruiters are looking for specific qualifications to fill a position, searching them into LinkedIn’s search bar and being able to view information for those that meet those requirements is a huge tool in finding the candidate you are looking for.
“Social media is absolutely the future of recruiting,” said Katy Smigowski, talent specialist at OpenView Venture Partners. “It's actually the present of recruiting. Many companies will only consider ‘passive candidates’ - meaning those that are not seeking employment. Why? Because typically this means this person is doing well in their job, is loyal, etc. They are attractive to companies to pull out and make them a part of their own successful team.”
It has seen a little bit of competition with Facebook with apps such as Glassdoor and even Facebook’s recent Graph Search feature, allowing users to see connections through their friends and searching for qualifications, but LinkedIn will stay as the go-to professional network in the social media world. As put in another OpenView blog, for Graph Search and other Facebook features to be relevant (for professional and recruiting purposes), users need to fill out their profiles as completely as possible, including career titles, current company, professional interests, etc.
OpenView is a venture capital firm that helps technology companies with financial, strategic, operational and practical support, but also has an entire section of its blog dedicated to recruiting. According to one of Smigowski’s blog posts in 2012, companies are expected to use social media to recruit for more than 80 percent of job openings.
Not only can they find candidates who have not applied to specific openings, but they can also increase their brand recognition, save money and show that they are innovative and able to keep up with current trends. So while the next five years could hold some improvements for LinkedIn, it will remain the top professional network when compared to existing social media platforms today.
Instagram has evolved a lot over the past few years – it started out as an app, was acquired by Facebook and recently launched its complete Web profiles. You still can’t upload pictures from the Web or a browser, because the company wants to emphasize photos on-the-go. People are always going to love sharing photos, but the lines are blurring between filtered photo sharing services. Twitter and Facebook both released internal filters of their own, so when uploading photos, users can add whatever effects they want without needing the third-party app. Although a popular medium today, I can definitely see an abundance of competition in the upcoming months, let alone years, so I wonder if it will still be a leader five years from now.
Technology plays an enormous role in the success and future of social media. Smartphones used to be a rarity, and now, users spend 30 percent of their total time online using social networks on mobile devices. Consumers’ time spent using social media mobile apps and mobile websites accounts for 63 percent of the year-over-year growth. Forty-six percent of social media users say they use their smartphones to access social media, and 16 percent say they use social media on a tablet.
Also, the continued growth of second screens, such as smart TVs, is also expected to change the social media landscape in the future. While we can only guess about the future and what social media will look like in five years, we can continue to maximize on everything it and technology offers in the meantime.