The Future of Social Networks


Charlene Li believes that in the future, social networks will be like air. They will be anywhere and everywhere we need and want them to be. And also, without that social context in our connected lives, we won’t really feel like we are truly living and alive, just as without sufficient air, we won’t really be able to breathe deeply.

There are four components of what Charlene calls the idea of “ubiquitous social networks”: 1) Profiles; 2) Relationships; 3) Activities; and 4) Business models. In the context of ubiquitous social networks, they will develop into the following: 1) Universal identities; 2) A single social graph; 3) Social context for activities; and 4) Social influence defining marketing value. For more detail on each of these components

The ubiquitous social network isn’t going to happen overnight – in fact, it’s going to take five+ years to come to fruition. This is part of the continued evolution of open platforms, starting with walled garden services like Prodigy, Compuserve, and AOL that evolved into the major portal aggregators like Yahoo!, MSN, and AOL. This gave way to the “search era” where Google et. al. made all of the Internet easily accessible. Today’s social networks are a throwback to those early closed platforms, and they will be opened up by new “entrants” into the social space – namely, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Google, and AOL – who will leverage their deep, daily relationships with online audiences.

In the end, there are two essential things that have to present for this all to happen. The first is technology — ubiquitous Internet access and the servers to enable real-time social graph access. Given the pace of technology development, I’m pretty sure this will happen. The second is much harder — trust has to be present, between people, between social networks, marketers, and developers. This is what is going take a lot of time, effort, and patience.

Check out her presentation below and forthcoming new book – Groundswell 

Author: Jas

Jas Dhaliwal is a highly experienced International Social Media Strategist. Currently working as AVG Technologies, Director of Communities and Online Engagement, he specialises in building and engaging with social communities across the web. Born and bred in London, he is passionate about technology and social anthropology. Prior to AVG, Jas launched the social media program for Microsoft’s MVP Award program. Jas holds a BSc (Hons) in Information Systems and has an MBA from Brunel University in London, England. You can follow Jas as @Jas on Twitter or on Google+

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