With so many social networks, mashups and social aggregators popping up nearly every day, it seems as if we are running out of new and innovative ways to connect and share ideas. Of course I don’t believe that social networks in general are going to fade away, but I do think that the way we use them are going to change. I also believe that newcomers to the industry are going to have to find new ways of gaining users and monetizing their ideas. Here are some things I have been thinking about lately.
Target markets will become more specific. What is Facebook’s target demographic? Is it internet users in general? Are they marketing toward a specific age group? There must be an answer, but it is unclear what their strategy really is in relation to their market. I think that since there are now so many different networks that it will become much harder to gain a user base because people already belong to the ones they like. Instead of relying on users to find you and join, new sites are going to have to market to a very specific demographic in order to gain users.
People will start charging for their services. It seems like a silly thing to have to say, but it’s just going to get harder and harder for people who are not charging for their products and services. Ever since money was invented, people have charged others if they wanted to buy something. Why have we drifted away from that practice? Yes, it is easier to gain a user base when you give something away for free, but it just doesn’t make any business sense. Especially in a time where the economy is faltering, revenue from advertising may just not be enough.
Social networks will be targeted towards “new” markets. Does anyone know why the Baby Boomers and the older generations have been largely ignored by social networks? Me either. They are one of the largest segments of the population and they are about to become the wealthiest generation in the history of the country. So why aren’t people targeting this market? There is the misconception that they do not use the internet. This just simply is not true. Seniors and boomers with internet access go online daily 15% more than all other segments of the population, and 94% of them use email compared to only 91% of everyone else.
Mobile technology will take off. This is becoming very apparent in today’s market. With the iPhone and its SDK, the possibilities of mobile online browsing has become commonplace. Now there are GPS enabled phones that tell your friends where you are (which I’ll admit is a little bit too “transparent” for my liking). This market is going to become the next big thing.
Where do you think the web 2.0 wave will take us next? Let me know!