Andrew Curry writes:

Our thought leadership series, Future Perspectives, is designed to share new thinking about a whole range of issues which we think could be of interest and concern, either to organisations or individuals. So far, we’ve tended to publish these in fairly conventional formats – The World in 2020 and The Future of Global Brands were both published as reports.

The latest piece, though, is about the future of social networks. The work’s been led by Alex Steer in our New York office, and it seemed to make sense to publish it online first. So, from Monday through Thursday next week, we’ll be running a series of posts written by Alex which outline this new thinking. There will be tweets as well. The work identifies a series of tensions, or ‘pivot points’, which will shape the evolution of the social networking space. What are they? Check back here next week to find out.

The full ‘Future of Social Networks series involves five blog posts: Posts One and Two discuss where we are today, and what underpins online behaviour. Posts Three and Four look at user tensions which create different behaviour online, and Post Five looks ahead to some of the implications for the shape of the social networking space and for innovation. The image at the top of this post comes from Place It Local, and is used here with thanks.

4 thoughts on “Coming shortly – the future of social networks

  1. This raises an interesting question.

    Is the intention to use the posting as an online publishing medium to talk about social media? Or is the intention to use the posting as a social medium to engage in interaction about social media?

    It’s very tempting to use social media as a low-cost channel for getting brands more visible online, which is doubtless why so many do it. But it can be time-consuming to engage in social media interactions, which is perhaps why so many brands seem stuck in transmit mode, rarely responding and hardly ever interacting.

  2. Alex Steer says:

    Great question, Stuart. Our point of view – as you’ll see as we introduce our thinking next week – is that you need to plan for the kinds of interactions your audience wants. People’s decisions about how they want to interact with each other (as with brands) shape the form social networks will take in the future, and also the kinds of activity that will get the best results for marketers. For instance, some consumers may value long-term interaction and engagement; others may prefer briefer or more superficial interactions.

    The real challenge is knowing how your consumers think about these interactions – and how that might be changing. That’s at the heart of what we’ll be introducing over the next week. Stay tuned!

  3. Excellent, a response! Thank you.

    Another pending question – which will no doubt be addressed – is who is tasked/entrusted with interacting on behalf of the brand or organization.

    The point about social media AFAIC is interactions between people, which means personal. Whether the brand is manned by a team of people who interact in their own name, or a team posting under a single name, it has to feel real. I don’t want a brandbot pretending to talk with me.

  4. Alex Steer says:

    Thanks, Stuart. Absolutely right that interactions between people do define social networking, and whatever organisations do should be grounded in an understanding of that. If you know what kinds of interactions you’re setting up for, deciding who manages it, and how, gets easier. And it’s not all theory, of course – it never hurts to ask what your customers value, whether that’s a lively human interaction or a quick and efficient information stream, or something else.

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