Social media has been a part of most of our lives for over two decades. But he certainly did not stand still. Early social sites like Classmates and Myspace have been replaced by others like Facebook and Twitter, which themselves have come under fire from upstarts seeking a slice of the action. Services like TikTok, Clubhouse, and Twitch still focus on creating a social experience where users can share content. But they take different approaches to the established “If you don’t pay for it, you’re the product” business model adopted by the most well-known social networks.
Because of this differentiation, and a few others we’ll discuss here, we may begin to see a new generation of social applications emerge that can be considered “social media 2.0”. As with other tech-related terms such as “web 3.0” and even “the metaverse”, it’s not necessarily something that’s clearly defined yet – more of an idea of where things will go in the future close.
However, from the perspective of someone who likes to keep an eye on future trends, the changes it encapsulates highlight an interesting evolution in the relationship between us and the digital environments in which we increasingly live our lives. lives.
One way to look at it is that new forms of social functionality mean a sociological rather than a technological shift in direction (as was the case with the move from web 1.0 to web 2.0, for example).
Just as we can appreciate how social media has changed our lives for the better – making it easier to connect with friends and sharing our lives with those we can’t always be physically with – it has clearly had a negative impact, too. There are growing concerns about the role it plays in spreading fake news, the risk of our privacy being compromised due to data breaches, and the rise of behaviors such as cyberbullying and trolling. Mix that in with a perceived lack of enthusiasm by the owners of some of the biggest networks to deal with any of these issues, and it’s easy to see why there’s a move towards an attempt to rethink things from from zero. I see this as an integral part of the direction in which social platforms are evolving and will continue to evolve in the years to come.
One of the biggest changes happening to online social networks is how we pay for them. At first glance, Social Media Activity 1.0 is free. However, most of us are smart enough to know that there is never really a free lunch. We pay for these services with the data we generate when we use them. This may be data that we enter directly when we create a profile and fill in our date of birth or click “Like” next to singers, TV shows or local businesses that we are fans of. Or it may be data it infers indirectly from our actions – how often we message people, what time of day or night we are active on the site, or how many other users are interacting with the posts we share. Although the exact figure is not known, some estimates indicate that Facebook holds, on average, half a gigabyte of data on each of its nearly two billion active users. All of this data is inevitably sold to companies – albeit usually in an anonymous form – who use it to offer us products they think we might want to buy.
We can apply the term “social media 2.0 values” to attempts by services to be a little less sleazy and simpler in this regard. Often they just charge us a subscription fee to access content from the creators we follow. The Twitch streaming service is a good example of this, as it allows users to subscribe to their favorite channels. The fees are then split between the service provider, to pay for maintenance of the service, and the content creator, to encourage them to keep creating.
Tipping is another form of monetization that is becoming increasingly popular with Social Services 2.0, allowing users to support creators and services with small, one-time donations rather than monthly fees.
Note that it’s not really helpful to categorize specific platforms as “social media 1.0” or “social media 2.0” – rather it’s the individual features that fall into those categories. Facebook and Twitter, for example, have embraced Social Media Monetization 2.0 features themselves, with features like Facebook Stars and Twitter Super Followers.
Clubhouse – an audio social network that reached 10 million users in its first year – is often cited as an example of a social 2.0 application. It does not collect or sell user data, and although it currently operates on venture capital funding, it plans to monetize itself by offering subscriptions and tips.
We mentioned the difference between the data we enter directly and the data inferred earlier. Another hallmark of social media 2.0 is a growing trend to reduce user friction by focusing more on inferred data. Instagram can be seen as kicking off some of these trends by removing much of the functionality included in its parent service Facebook and focusing on features related to image sharing. Similarly, TikTok goes a step further by limiting the need for users to even click “Like”, making decisions about what content is popular. Its algorithms simply ensure that more frequently watched content appears in more people’s feeds. This means users don’t have to rely on their own network to “like and share” the content to deliver it. It also allows users to build their own audience faster by jumping on trends, which increases the likelihood of their videos going viral outside of their own group of subscribers.
Platforms, not networks
Another facet of new social apps is that they are often less widespread than “traditional” social networks. Rather than existing solely as tools for socializing, they’re more likely to present themselves as platforms for specific activities or interests – cooking, travel, writing, startups – just about anything – that incorporate features social.
This means they are less focused on traditional growth and more likely to tune into niche communities or demographics. Twitch and Discord are social platforms for the gaming audience, and Slack and Teams are platforms that bring social media functionality to the working world. TikTok is generally considered youth-focused, and Clubhouse leans towards professional users, technologists, and creators.
AI for good
Finally, it should be noted that social platforms and all forms of socialized applications are becoming more and more sophisticated and conscious in the way they use new technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) to combat some of the negative aspects that can occur.
Although the earliest use cases for AI in social media may have revolved around segmenting users in order to serve ads, today it is also used to identify and moderate toxic behavior such as speech. hate or discriminatory behavior. It is also used to identify groups responsible for spreading fake news and crack down on malicious actors who continually create new accounts after being banned. Some services have even developed machine learning algorithms that can identify signs that users may be suicidal from the language and content they post and automatically provide links to support resources. A more mature strategy around deploying AI in an ethical way, to improve user experience, is definitely something I would like to see become an important part of social media 2.0.
So, to sum up, the continued evolution of online social platforms can be seen as platforms that attempt to change behaviors or characteristics that are now viewed negatively. It also means a move towards a more creator-focused experience, where the primary reason users will connect to a site or service is to engage with content that specifically appeals to them and that they want to support.
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