The face of Social in 2020
Social media is evolving fast and more big changes are on the horizon for next year.
Here’s what to keep an eye out for and how it could impact your social media experience.
The end of likes
Well, not entirely, but the use of likes and emoji reactions are set to change in the future. With the powerhouse Facebook trialling removing counts from select Instagram profiles and soon on the flagship product itself.
They postulate this may help address the growing concerns over mental health and social media proliferation of negative self-image. It may also be a somewhat cynical move to enable the business minded gamification of likes at a later date. Whatever the reason the literal ‘faces of social media are sure to be changing tac in the next year.
The users in the early internet era were highly engaged, butfor the most part separated into small communities of forum users. The rise of social platforms ended that, pushing everyone into multiple huge sets of online groups, which gave us better interactivity but far less identity.
As big platform politicking, unreliable algorithms, and the fear of fake news have grown, there has been a move back towards smaller, dedicated social networks where there is a feel of being more in control of the experience and personal data. Messaging apps and private areas within other platforms will continue to grow in popularity. With a continuing cycle of over-population followed by exodus to other platforms likely following in the coming years.
Facebook has suggested for years that Virtual Reality was where it wanted the platform to move in future, which lead to its purchase of Oculus Rift in 2014. While that dream is still somewhat unrealised for the public, they have announced plans for Horizon, an envisioned huge user focused virtual world for multi-user interaction. Frequently referred to as the real-world equivalent to Ready Player One’s Oasis, it will likely be much more centred towards social interaction than a useable alternate reality. The beta test begins within 12 months.
Augmented Reality, already a mainstay of Instagram and Snapchat filters, looks likely to only grow in relevancy, though most notably we can expect more marketing application of AR in social advertising with utilities like Snapchat’s Geofilters being a great example.
Having maligned algorithms earlier this one could be surprising, but Artificial intelligence and machine learning are at a point where simple tasks can be performed pretty reliably. In 2020 bots and new forms of machine agents will become more widespread and visible in many of online communities.
They may well be used simply as help guides, finding information and people we may want to see, at its core, a hyper sophisticated ‘people you may know’. In the background programmes like these will keep evolving to moderate and analyse our interactions both for greater content awareness and eventual marketing efficiency.
The Fake News Cycle
The growth of technological masterpieces like mo-cap avatars, virtual influencers, deep fakes and politicised misinformation campaigns means what should and should not be in the media will be continuing to change in the next year.
We are yet to see a truly ground-breaking marketing manoeuvre using fake content as its corner stone, but you can guarantee anything that gains consumer engagement will soon be used for this purpose. Likewise, celebrities will start investing heavily in ways to both sell and protect their digital visage.
E-commerce, specifically the Facebook marketplace and apps like Shpock will grow ever more possible in our social arenas, moving past traditional digital shopping with their ability to monetise connectivity and sharing experiences.
A new Instagram storefront is likely to blossom exponentially taking its no nonsense rich image filled profiles and becoming a socio-digital sales portfolio of sorts. The afore-mentioned bots and personalisation algorithms will extrapolate the platforms’ user data and habits into more consistent and relevant ‘other people bought…’ etc. sections.
More legal scrutiny
The unfortunate backdrop to all of the above is the fact confidence in social media as a whole has been soundly tested of late. Privacy, digital surveillance, advertising data protection, abuses, failed unhealthy media mediation, and much more have all taken their toll.
The sad news is this is unlikely to be going away any time soon and even with government mandates and new in-house programmes in place to tackle issues, we can expect more regulatory moves and a glut of cases in the courts. The silver-lining? As more regulation happens, and social as a whole grows and spreads, businesses will take note and hire far more staff to control their online presence. A win if you’re looking to become a social media expert…