I can only give you projections based on the current shift of Social Media habits in young people as they currently are. Of course we have the parodies of Millennials being distracted by their phones in parodies, but I am close enough to this young demographic that I see it in a different light. I see it as an aching to connect, an addiction fed by a need for social connection, fed by bursts of dopamine every time they see the little heart notification on Instagram. I know it cause I feel it.
Before we get started, let's brush up. Here's a history of Social Media in 90 seconds.
What are young people using now?
I'm talking 10-20 year olds. They care about Snapchat, Instagram and voyeurism on Periscope. Briefly talking with my brother who is a leader of a lot of young people in his community, he sees Instagram and Snapchat as fulfilling different roles for the young people but that these are the two most used by the young people he helps lead.
Companies leveraging this for digital marketing and driving traffic to their websites should recognize that visual oriented content is extremely valuable right now. As a professional doing Minneapolis Web Design, I'm convinced to tell the story with photographs and video. If you can't currently do this, learn. If you don't think your company can leverage these medium's you're missing opportunities to be where the eyes are, especially if you care about young Millennials.
What are young people going to use in 5 years?
I don't know what the technologies will be called, but they are most definitely going to allow them more intimate connection with celebrities, and real-time communication with photographs and video with their friends. If 3D makes it into prime-time you better believe they'll be using it to voyeuristically be part of their friends lives across the city.
To make it interesting, I'll take a shot in the dark about what these technologies could be called.
MyLife - On the more intimate connection with celebrities front we'll give you, a go-pro, my-perspective/documentary style real-time app that you can have on without opening the application, and that requires a separate camera to work. Of course, the Kim Kardashians of the world already have a bit of this going on, but the interface would focus around the most interesting people in the world who are on MyLife, and perhaps incentivization could include simply limiting the amount of time you could spend watching a stream unless you tip.
Holochat - Some of the best ways to use holographic technology could simply be the age old chat room, or ways to meet online. Take Periscope, add dimension and broadcast the image in projection format and you have this hypothetical application.
Of course, these technologies might be wildly different that the kinds of social media I'm suggesting, but we know that the biggest ones currently and that are growing are ones that connect people together in better and deeper ways. So I see offshoots of Instagram-like, and Snapchat like clones that immerse individuals more deeply into the lives of their friends and people they're interested in.
The sociability of wearables
I wore my fitbit for a couple months and gave it to my mom, because frankly I got bored, but I think wearables are slowly going to become more ubiquitous and things that were once private will more and more be commonplace to share in real time. Yes, with fitbit you can challenge your former college roommate or your uncle to a 'work week challenge,' and 'Jeer' them when they walked 3,000 steps and you walked 7,000, but I see this trend as something that will grow more deeply, especially in any field related to health.
Where the money starts to flow, there we will find where the best of our future technologies will be. So staying alive is pretty big right now and is likely going to continue to be huge in the future. Perhaps you are thinking that will be for the 20 and 30+ aged crowd who are aware of their own mortality, and I think you are on to something there. But I do see the competitive nature of health and fitness oriented wearables as appealing to a subset of young people who want to beat their friends and show off. I imagine deeper and more niche opportunities to challenge your friends and the desire to demonstrate your athletic superiority will manifest itself in sports specific apps that share stats and metrics with teams and friends.
For us old fogeys this market will grow even more exponentially, as 'staying alive' continues to be big business with digital doctor's visits, real-time sharing of vital signs and you best believe Apple is betting big on this trend with their development of health-kit and Apple Research Kit, giving researchers the ability to much more easily involve people in studies through study-specific apps.
Other Social Trends Watch - Quick Fix Sports Gambling and Other Gaming
So yes, giant sums of money are floating into real-time sports betting with sites like Fan Duel and Draft Kings, and the real-time entertainment gambling industry will increase and balloon and call attention on itself and the youth who have grown up inundated with advertising for these sites. Young people will likely continue to be drawn in and lose chunks of money until legislation limits the power of these services which are addictive and potentially damaging for many people.
But the social connection of gaming will continue to be huge among young people and draw their attention. An interesting perspective on this intensely involving trend I found in a book called 'Everything bad is good for you,' which says the sophistication and intricacy of these video games is actually making young people smarter. So perhaps education-oriented games will increase, but overall all even beyond this much of this entertainment is getting more sophisticated and forcing young people to think harder and be smarter.
Perhaps with the intricacy of social media, the intensely social oriented nature of people's lives even when they are away from school, and the sophistication of entertainment in places that may not seem sophisticated on the surface is making us all more emotionally and socially intelligent without even knowing it. Eat your heart out Dostoyevsky, Dumas, and Nietzsche, we don't need your stinking books.
Wink wink. My favorites from these three are 'Brother's Karamazov' by Dostoyevsky, 'The Count of Monte Cristo' by Alexandre Dumas and 'Beyond Good and Evil' by Nietzsche .
Comment below if you have any thoughts on the future of social media or your favorite book of classic literature. :)