Predictions without a crystal sphere: the future of social media
21 Oct, 2019
It is a tough and wide-ranging question, one could answer it quite theoretically. Say that Facebook will have closed its doors, that TikTok will be on the roof of the network world and that Viadeo will be buried under the LinkedIn colossus. And you, I see you running away from an article you’re thinking about dying of boredom, “great the end of Facebook, I hadn’t thought of that!”. Stay a little longer.
Who can boast of having the answer? Especially not us! We may not care in 5 years when we say that we were out of line, just like the prediction of the end of the world in 2012 that we are still waiting for. This article could fall into the maze of the Internet by then… unless it is used in an RV book sold on Instagram shopping.
We give voice
“Wait, I’ll give you a voice.”
I don’t know about you, but it took us a little while to understand what “the young people” were doing talking to their telephone microphones, alone, without a caller, in the middle of the street or in the subway, in a more or less ridiculous way. They’re talking. They “chat”. Voice messages are in vogue on Instagram, Messenger or WhatsApp and it was predictable. After the intelligent voice and speaker assistants Siri, Alexa, Google Home and the latest by Orange named Djingo making our lives and searches easier, it is now time for our digital conversations to “voicer”.
It seems that after “m-commerce” and “Social Selling” there will be “Voice commerce” and “Social Voice Selling”. Complicated names to say that we can certainly talk to Instagram and ask him to buy the same dress as such an influencer in size M. In one turn, the order is placed, almost already delivered!
Speaking of influencers, what will happen to them in five years?
Influence is business
“It’s a great job, I live off my passion and don’t feel like I’m working on a single day of the year. On the other hand, I know it can stop overnight so I enjoy every moment.” Almost the same message given by all the influencers in France.
And for good reason, most of them already protect their backs by taking advantage of their superpowers: the power to influence purchasing, to influence lifestyles and even behaviours. How? How? By creating their brand or their derived products: they may as well use this superpower for themselves rather than take advantage of the related brands.
Our super-influencers then become super-business men. And it works! Recipe book, biography, diary, kit and schoolbag, brand of clothes or swimwear, sports program, tea… everything can be sold, everything can be taken away!
And the famous “millenials” are the first target: when in the past we adored celebrities like Celine Dion, Indochine, Johnny Halliday (inevitably), Mylène Farmer and I go on, today, the stars, they are indeed our super-influencers straight out of the social networks with an aura as strong as Tokyo Hotel with chicks.
Products are robbed, queues of endless meets-up… and improbable “products” are resold at a golden price.
In July, the “Celebrity” site wanted to surf on these superpowers’ superpowers to rip off fans: this site allegedly sold signed videos of hundreds of influencers between 25 and 80€ (depending on the size of their community).
The worst part of all this? It’s that it works! Hundreds of Internet users were scammed before the influencers themselves conveyed the message of deception.
And in five years?
Well, we can assume two simple things.
The first is that all these success stories inspire today’s young fans to become tomorrow’s super-influencer. Our children will now dream of becoming Influencers, like firefighters, astronauts or mistresses.
Will there be an audience for all? There will be a multiplication of micro-influencers and brand strategies will have to adapt. Moreover, we already notice that teenagers naturally pay attention to their personal branding. Not rare are those who easily exceed 1000 Instagram subscribers (when you’ve been struggling for 5 years to exceed 500), they have a culture of their image and are very comfortable with their smartphone’s camera. From dancing on Tiktok to “Face Cam” on Instagram, with the ease of Philippe Risoli on Le Juste Prix (cult show in France).
The second assumption is that the superpower to make people buy is gradually diminishing. By accepting partnerships from all sides, by taking commissions in the process, Internet users will no longer be fooled and the trust between influencer and Internet users will evaporate. This is already the case, it is no longer uncommon to see comments under the sponsored publications of influencers: “Another sponso post, ready to do anything to earn money” (and we do it soft).
However, the power to influence behaviour and question certain causes will always be present and perhaps even stronger: better eating, better living, better consumption, ecology, protecting the planet… We can see the glass half empty or half full, an unhealthy business based on everyone’s conscience or the superpower to change our ways of life.
Laury Thilleman, french influencer
In any case, it will probably be necessary for brands to use this “niche” in order to be truly taken seriously by followers.
Distrust and reversal
And I come to an important point: Internet users will be suspicious! Distrustful of sponsored publications of influencers but not only.
The Internet of anything, of the time when everything was magical, new, superb, technological is coming to an end. Where any form was filled in without question, where the CNIL was not yet active and the RGPD was only an acronym.
BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU
We are increasingly informed and educated about the dangers, real or not, of social networks and the Internet in general. Beyond the exploitation of data, there is a growing awareness of network manipulation.
Netflix released in early 2019 a horrific documentary on the Cambridge Analytica scandal, “The Great Hack”. It shows how American voters were influenced by their voting intentions in favour of the extreme right following Facebook data leaks. Or how democracy can be threatened by social networks. The viewing of the report gives you cold sweats, and the desire to do just one thing: delete your Facebook account.
We now know that our behaviour is constantly observed, that our conversations are listened to by Google Home, that the microphones on our laptops allow us to push ads based on our discussions. We are convinced that hackers can take possession of our computer webcam, that the features of our faces are recorded on servers thanks to facial recognition, that Google Map records all our movements, that Apple knows perfectly our hours of sleep and waking up. We also know that Uber raises his rates when we are in “energy saving”, ready to pay the price to come home before our smartphone goes off, that Tinder manipulates our meetings by evaluating our physical activity or our level of intelligence through the study of our conversations.
No more random space, we let algorithms make choices for us, abandoning our free will. All our actions, research, travel and conversations can lead companies to determine an “emotional pulse”. Our interests, our tastes, our fears. And it can be used against us at any time. BIG BROTHER. This is where we are.
Add to that the Fake News, the false information that is part of our daily lives and that we work to thwart every day. And so we have the explosive cocktail of mistrust. The one who will push us in 5 years to leave social networks aside, to be careful with our digital manipulations.
What if, in addition to spying on us, social networks make us sick?
Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat would lead to depression and a feeling of loneliness. According to a study by the Royal Society for Public Health, published in 2017, 12-24 year olds using Instagram and Snapchat are four times more likely to have depressive tendencies than the average youth in this age group. This race to the permanent likes that allows you to feel loved, to regain self-confidence is only fictional. When we find ourselves in real life, this moment of glory is no more and the fall can be destructive.
Not to mention the perfect life, on the surface, of influencers, who never have any moments of doubt, their couple life is always beautiful, their travels are dazzling, they have the measurements of Ken and Barbie and their nanny educates their three children perfectly. And the more we scroll through our feed, the more we see beautiful and happy people, all well framed, filtered photos, with smiles on their faces. A life to be doubted for his personal happiness and his own annual vacation in Berck-sur-Mer (city in the north of France). Fortunately, some accounts struggle to show us the real life, the not perfect life, the life of everyday life. (Thank you Celeste)
Recently, Instagram decided to put an end to the “dictatorship of the like” to remove this social pressure. Still in the test phase, the radical solution would be to remove the likes counter. End of the unhealthy competition but also a major challenge to the functioning of the network, especially for influencers. Instagram would therefore go back on what made it successful, and we would almost all be relieved!
“Social networks are the end of real sharing. “Well, in five years’ time, we’re (hopefully?) re-connecting. After all, Buffalo are back in fashion, why not IRL (aka in real life) relationships? It’ll be old school to send each other messages, we’ll call each other. It might be old school to have social networks and a smartphone, we’ll go back to old Nokia 3310 (which won’t spy on our conversations) and we’ll go to the theatre instead of doing live shows on Twitch.
Google has probably anticipated this need for reconnection, by announcing in July the launch of a new network: Shoelace. This application would make it easier to meet people with the same interests around you. A mixture of Tinder and Facebook, still under algorithm, but this time with the aim of getting the head off the screen.
So a priori if we summarize well, in 5 years no one will be on social networks anymore and we will talk alone to our Smartphones? Not really, we will most certainly be more educated and attentive to the way we consume these networks, such as today’s healthy food trend. We will be more careful both in the way we use them and in everything that can influence us. There will be a backtracking, a erasing of the screens in favour of real life. We can imagine the trends of “zero smartphones”, “slow life, right life”, “zero networks”… We will move away from them while keeping a foot in them, because yes, despite everything, social networks are practical and it helps to keep in touch.
Not to mention digital pollution. Did you know that the Internet is the biggest polluter in the world? In a climate war context, it may well be that despite our good intentions, it is the planet that forces us to limit our connection times.
Journal du Geek