A look at the next wave of social media platforms
TikTok, Clubhouse, Snapchat, Discord… and many more are leading the charge like a new wave of social media platforms.
The fundamental idea underlying the entire social media industry is to maximize engagement. The need for personalized communication and socialization will never end. With technology changing the face of the digital world, it opens up new opportunities for a range of new platforms in the way they facilitate socialization.
With everyone locked down during the pandemic, we’ve seen a new wave of social media platforms gain prominence. Most of them have been helped by a variety of factors – from the scrutiny facing popular social media giants and growing privacy concerns to users eager for new ways to connect and interact with their social circles. New platforms have managed to capitalize on these niche demands by successfully harnessing new technologies and advancements in innovative ways, and delivering experiences that are different from the reigning giants.
Create your own unique niche
Engagement is constantly evolving, and so is the technology that involves it. While some platforms like Twitter have stayed true to their original concept, some like Facebook have notoriously embraced socializing trends such as the incorporation of live videos and 24-hour stories first made popular by Snapchat.
However, what fledgling platforms have going for them is novelty. Discord, the text and audio platform, and Houseparty, a video chat app where people can join live chats where they know at least one person, have both become popular during the global lockdown. Apps like the video-based TikTok and audio-only Clubhouse have also rocketed to popularity during the pandemic.
Each platform has its own unique niche where it works best. However, the nature of the Internet is dynamic and what is popular today can easily catch on tomorrow. The only way for these platforms to prevail is if they continue to capture attention and continue to deliver the experiences that set them apart.
Social media is primarily about interactions. There are two sides to this: either people are going to where their social circles and favorite influencers are mostly located, or, as reports suggest, they’re going to the cool, hip platforms where their families aren’t.
As mentioned earlier, digital privacy has become a pressing concern these days. Demographically, the younger generation tends to shun the platforms their parents are active on, preferring fledgling platforms that aren’t devoid of political feeds, targeted ads, or unnecessary visuals to which they did not register voluntarily.
To ban or not to ban
In a digitally driven world, social media platforms are the most convenient places for people to amplify their voices and make their opinions heard. As facilitators, it becomes the responsibility of platforms to moderate offensive and inappropriate content. However, over the years, the divide between what is appropriate has blurred – questions raised about restricting free speech, promoting or influencing political propaganda, and widespread misinformation.
Policies set by the Indian government compel social media companies to unpublish content deemed harmful or inappropriate to the country’s sovereignty if presented with a court order or notice from a relevant government body. Additionally, the rules require “significant social media intermediaries” — the threshold of which is yet to be defined — to recognize the “first creator” of any offensive content in circulation. The rules also require there to be nationally based staff appointed as a compliance officer, a nodal contact person and a resident grievance officer.
Questions have been raised about what this means for the freedom of speech and privacy that are supposed to be violated in order to identify the first author of the “malicious content”. However, with misinformation having the power to potentially cost lives, it is also true that there is a need for cyber policies that govern user behavior on social media in an ethical and, as far as our country is concerned, democratically. .
Road to an exciting future
Social media has already seen many exciting advances and integrations. The most recent being the integration of e-commerce into social apps and the use of augmented reality for trial experiences.
Another exciting notion is that of blockchain-based social media which can enable privacy of information, permanent safeguarding of their content, guarantee freedom of expression and the possibility of allowing users to monetize their personal information with their consent.
The research also predicts the rise of specific vertical social platforms for sports, finance, education, health, etc., transforming the world into one massively connected community.
(The author is the founder and CEO of NeoSOFT Technologies and the opinions expressed in this article are his own)