The Elephant on the Wall: Is the Social Networking Landscape Up for Realignment?

Social Networking

Social networking, or the propagation of community through the online media, is big business in 2018. Everyone is hooked to their favorite social media platforms and the latter in turn are monetizing this unmitigated public attention. However, everything isn’t ok. In recent times, popular social networking websites have had a problem with how they collect, analyze, store and propagate the users’ personal data.

And herein lies the problem, and an opportunity for social networking entrepreneurs who are looking to break the hold of the big five- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest. In 2018, is it conceivably possible to build a full-fledged, organically popular and profitable social media platform?

Social networking’s integrated role in the modern lifestyle

A popular study estimates that in 2019, there will be staggering 2.77 billion social media users on planet earth. This is picking up from the 2.46 billion confirmed users in 2017. And, a monumental 65% of this lot are frequent users who log into their social media accounts several times through the day.

This is a supremely responsive target demographic if there ever was one. And, the lucrative aspect of social networking is further augmented by the fact that the growth of this market has been directly dependent on the growth of two allied sectors- smartphones and internet connectivity. Both, are counted amongst the most proactive, profitable and highly scalable business verticals.

Aside from individuals, 81% of all small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) employ some type of social media platform, either as a free tool or paid resource, to engage in promotional activities as well as to connect directly with the target audience. Of course, the reach and appropriateness of the social networking website in question is a major factor in attracting the aforementioned interest and investment.

And finally, the often-remarked connection between social visibility and the millennials. Almost every profit-making entity longs for the millennials’ attention- and social networking websites have been particularly lucky in this regard. A well configured social media platform could pose as a conduit between advertisers and the millennials and nurture an audience that could be subject to upselling and reselling attempts in the future.

Privacy concerns and the management of user data

If Facebook’s recent problems with data breach and user privacy is any indication, even a social media goliath can be taken down by the simplest mistakes in user data management. And, the latter is quite possibly the biggest question in the social networking landscape right now- how can user data be reliably collected, profited from, without falling prey to data breaches and unauthorized usage?

Safety and privacy will definitely prove to be the key. That, and an assortment of social tools that go beyond just status updates and networking. The challenge will also include educating the target audience about the supremely friendly and safe data collection practices and compliance with a number of watchdogs that are likely to be setup in the wake of the recent turmoil in the social media landscape.

Future is smart, with localized social networking

As smartphones get smarter, social networking platforms will have to keep up with the pace of innovation. Smartphones have emerged as the primary source of social media consumption- a mammoth 169.5 million unique users in the US alone in 2017- and their influence is expected to surpass other sources by the year 2022. Alongside, mediums that focus on local content hold an edge over an inclusive approach to news presentation. The strategy when building the next social media success story must account for all of the above considerations.