This week I participated to a training course that gave an overview on how to use social media in marketing. The course was reasonably interesting and I must say that I now know a bit more about how to utilize tools like Facebook and LinkedIn in marketing.
One lecture on the course handled the future. The lecturer presented a vision where social media and networks will penetrate to every field of our life. Let?s say that you are walking in the city center and would like to find a restaurant. You take your mobile phone from your pocket and it can recommend to you restaurants based on the places you have visited before, what your friends have recommended and so. The phone could give you the menu an how to get to the restaurant, maybe even make a table reservation and if your friends happen to be in near the phone may suggest that you ask them to join for dinner. This sort of services would apply everywhere and to everything. Computing would be ubiquitous.
For me this kind of vision sounds a bit pointless is the problem that is being solved with computing being everywhere all the time really that big. What is wrong with not knowing where you are, why don?t you want to explore new cities. What this ubiquitous computing becomes a straight jacket that instead of making us explore and try new things keeps us always in our comfort zone. I think that the best part of living is not knowing what becomes happens next, trying new things and challenging yourself every day. If people become so accustomed to being surrounded by technology that advises them in every situation, we might soon be living in world that Isaac Asimov drew up in his book ?Caves Of Steel?.
One crucial point of network is that it brings benefit to the participants. How does the situation change if network becomes too large and it is difficult to assess if someone is getting things without contributing anything. I also wonder that is it possible that the actual first signs no longer are seen in social media, but instead the first signs of trends will be seen in the IRL social networks of early adopters of new trends. What I mean that if when some new trend appears in social media it is already everywhere and known by everybody it becomes quite impossible to try and benefit from this emerging trend.
What happens when people do not want to share or wish to limit the network among which they wish to share information? Will we see new barriers and borders being raised so that people will able to protect their networks? Last week I read that the World Economic Forum has started an social media service for its participants. The service is called WELCOM and the participants of the service are 5000 of the most influential people in the world. Of course these people can not (but should they?) talk openly about what they think about where the world is going, so it is quite understandable that a service like WELCOM has been created.
Social media undoubtedly brings with it also good things. It will be easier to tell about new ideas and opportunities to the right people straight away. The rippling effect of your message may reach a lot more people than a normal marketing message and it will also be more accurate. There is also a great possibility to react to customer responses more efficiently and to develop your goods and services according what customers think.
I predict that the next phase in the evolution of social media will have something to do with assessing if this matters to you personally. The professionals, I believe, speak of semantic web.