Moving Beyond Facebook: The Evolving Face of Social Media

Date:   Friday , April 15, 2016

Headquartered in California, Affinity is world\'s leading contextual ad network that enables over 100,000 advertisers to reach out to their target audience by providing innovative contextual media & monetization solutions via its Global Pay-Per-Click & Display Networks.

Pervasive and integral - these two words rightly describe what social media is to our personal and professional lives today. So integral have the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram become for today\'s mobile-first population, it is tough to even imagine a life without our usual menagerie of social media applications. But not so long ago, social media was just another word that had not even made its way into the everyday lexicon. What\'s the future like for social media? Read on.

Let us rewind back a decade and a half to circa 2000, when email was the primary mode of digital communication and Mark Zuckerberg was still figuring out his college application. Bulletin boards and discussion forums were all the rage during this nascent phase in the evolution of social media, as indicated by the popularity of Orkut, which allowed the growing internet-first consumer base to interact with one another by providing them with a customizable scrapbook-like interface. This move to recreate the social aspect of community-driven interaction on a virtual medium also led to the rise of several other social media platforms such as YouTube, Google+, MySpace and Blogger. People were suddenly glued to their computer screens for hours on end writing blogs, reading blogs, viewing videos, uploading videos, and raising crops with their social circles virtually (remember Farmville?). Social media, it seemed then, was at the heights of its power.

But then, the world went mobile and the social media industry saw another tectonic shift. Aided by the digital revolution and increased smartphone penetration, social media became an even more pervasive presence in everyday lives. WhatsApp, Instagram and Snapchat became a must-have for users, and checking notifications before sleeping and after waking up (and sometimes even in between) became a daily ritual. It was common to see people missing fair bits of conversation over the dinner table in their attempt to gloss over all the latest updates from friends.

Orkut closed down and Facebook emerged as the undisputed industry leader. However, Facebook\'s unparalleled popularity and massive traffic created its own set of hurdles. The interactions became too diluted as the users\' home feeds became cluttered with posts that were not relevant, while the more interesting posts got buried beneath the deluge of pictures of luncheons and breakfasts that they did not attend, or holiday spots they had personally never visited! In short, the discerning netizens were looking for something different than what they got from Facebook.

Several specific interest-based social media channels like LinkedIn and Tumblr took full advantage of this growing disenchantment with Facebook and aggregated dedicated user bases, but the users did not want to have to log on to different accounts to satiate their varying requirements for social interactions. This is where social media platforms such as Affimity came into the picture. By integrating the socializing and network feeds aspect of social networks with the convenience and focus of interest-specific TV channels, these platforms allowed users to filter out the background noise and focus only on their passions and specific interests; no longer was a user subject to content that they were not interested in. Moreover, the users had complete freedom of flipping between their choices as well, just like a TV channel; a user who read motivational quotes in the morning could easily switch preference to check out the latest news around the globe by noon.

Tailored social interactions - this, then, is where the future of social media is heading. The consumer today wants to filter out the wheat from the chaff, and alternate social media platforms are helping them do exactly that. The response so far has been encouraging, and the day isn\'t far off when we will see wholesale adoption of social media platforms that curate and tailor their offerings to suit their users, and not the other way around.