What Will the Next 10 Years of Social Media Look Like (and how will Exorde help businesses use social media more effectively)?

May 16, 2024
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Think back. What was the very first social media platform?

Any guesses?

Are you thinking MySpace? Maybe Friendster?

If so, you’re about 30 years out. The first commercial system that allowed users to instant message, blog and even screen-share was called PLATO, and by the late 1970s it had several thousand terminals across almost a dozen computer mainframe networks.

But perhaps that’s stretching the definition of social media. If we’re thinking about social media as we recognise it today — a place where socially-connected groups can connect and share content — the first significant example is, arguably, SixDegrees.com.

Courtesy of the Wayback Machine

SixDegrees predated Friendster, LinkedIn, MySpace and Facebook by 5–7 years, but it shut down in 2001 and today most people probably don’t even remember it.

Fast forward 20 years and social media is still dominating people’s time and attention.

Television is sooo 2009

Worldwide, 59% of people are active on social media, with the average social media user spending around 2 and 1/2 hours a day on one or more platforms (Filipinos are the world leaders in this area with a mind-boggling 4 hours and 6 minutes daily average).

But current averages can’t tell you much about the future. For that you need to look at the trends. And the most striking figures are the difference in social media use between the youngest and oldest generations. Naturally you’d expect younger people to use social media more than older people, but even with that assumption in mind, the numbers are still pretty incredible.

In the US, 45% of people over 64 use social media daily.

Among 18–49 years olds, that figure jumps to over 80%.

It’s reasonable to extrapolate that, even if social media use plateaus from this point, as the younger generation becomes the older generation, average social media use is going to go up. Considerably so.

Businesses Have to be on Social Media

It doesn’t matter whether you run a global corporate juggernaut, or a single vaping store with minimal square footage, if you own a business, you need a social media presence.

Whether you like using these platforms or not, it’s where people are.

And the argument that people don’t want business mixed in with their socials? Nonsense. In the US, 75% or internet users use social media to research brands, and 71% of consumers who have a positive experience with a brand on social media say they are likely to recommend that brand to their family and friends.

And a stunning 49% of consumers depend on social media influencer recommendations to help them make purchasing decisions.

If you still think that your business can do fine with just the bare minimum of social media marketing, reread that last sentence a few times until the import of it sinks in.

And then start making plans to up your social media game.

What Will the Next 10 Years of Social Media Look Like?

If you take social media simply as it exists in its current form and in the way it’s predominantly used, social marketing strategy is fairly straightforward. People like to see businesses posting content that is easy and quick to consume and that is interesting and/or entertaining.

Tick those boxes and people will like, share and follow.

Rinse and repeat.

But if you want to get ahead of the game — and if you’re leaning more towards the M part of SME, or beyond, you absolutely need to — you should be thinking a couple of steps ahead. How is social media developing? What trends have emerged in recent months and years? And how can your business stay relevant on social media platforms?

Let’s start by addressing the elephant in the room… has social media peaked?

At the back end of last year, there was some talk that average social media use had plateaued and maybe even diminished slightly over the last few years. Does this indicate a technology that is dying or due to be replaced?

This seems unlikely.

In the UK and US, average time spent on social media since 2013 has increased by 50–100% depending on the age group. There’s a direct correlation between age and the length of time spent on social media, so the real question is whether this is a reflection of people’s interests changing as they get older, or whether this is a generational trend based around the average age of when people started using social media.

Will Gen Z and Gen Alpha continue their high social media use into their middle and old age? Only time will tell.

But the reason for user stagnation may also be linked to market saturation. There are a finite number of people in the world so endless growth is only possible if the world population grows at the same rate.

And let’s face it; it’s hard to get exercised about a small slowdown in use when we’re talking about a user base of more than four and a half billion.

It’s a bit like everyone predicting the demise of Netflix because total paying members have flattened or dropped slightly. They still have, as of the third quarter of 2022, almost a quarter of a billion paying users.

Mild underperformance might hit the share price for a time, but it’s all relative.

Perhaps the most interesting theory for the flattening of growth in social media use is that users are simply dividing their time among a growing variety of attractions. Video game use and movie streaming on mobile phones is up and is competing for social media use.

There’s also some suggestions that some people are migrating away from public social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and more towards private social media platforms, such as WhatsApp, Messenger and Discord.

Perhaps the opportunity to hang out with like-minded people is more attractive than the unfortunate toxicity present on public social media.

But whatever the reason, social media is unlikely to fade away because, at its core, social media is a digital reflection of how humans interact in the real world. The precise nature of social media and how it’s used will evolve over time, but its presence could only fade away if human beings as a species were to drastically change. That seems unlikely.

So, if you really want to get ahead of the game on social media, what you really need to focus on is getting a better, deeper understanding of what people are talking about and how they feel about the subjects they’re discussing.

This is how you go from being a reactive social media marketer, to a proactive social media marketer.

Driving the Social Conversation

Some of the most successful brands on social media are excellent at jumping on trends and tying it back to their products or services. Especially when this is done in a humorous way, consumers will offer extraordinary amounts of patience towards even the most blatantly self-promotional content.

But the next level to this approach is taking very small trends and blowing them up, or even inventing new trends from scratch.

Creative Agency, CPB London, killed it in 2022 with this campaign built around International Women’s Day.

After doing their own research and discovering, among other things, that 39% of primary school children think mummies should look after babies and do all the housework, while daddies go to work, they created a killer range of images that are just begging to be liked, shared and argued about.

I’ve no idea whether CPB London took on this campaign because it’s something they feel strongly about or simply because they correctly identified this as a popular, crowd-pleasing subject, but imagine for a moment how much easier it would be to create this kind of social media experience if you have the ability to easily research what people are talking about and what their feelings are towards it.

This is how you go from JOINING the conversation, to DRIVING the conversation, to STARTING the conversation.

Along with many other important cultural and sociological goals, this is exactly what Exoerde was built for.

How Will Exorde Help Businesses Use Social Media More Effectively?

Exorde is a decentralised protocol that allows anyone to task 100s or even 1000s of people with running blockchain-based software to research a specific topic or keyword. Not only does Exorde crawl social media and blog platforms to gather the most recently posted conversations, it also uses machine learning to collate the data and interpret how people FEEL towards this topic.

Currently, the protocol can identify the following attitudes…

Neutral — Realisation — Confusion — Amusement — Approval — Curiosity — Disapproval — Love — Annoyance — Caring — Gratitude — Surprise — Optimism — Nervousness — Admiration — Excitement — Joy — Desire — Disgust — Fear — Anger — Disappointment — Sadness — Embarrassment — Pride — Relief — Remorse — Grief

Imagine for a moment that you’re interested in creating a marketing campaign around a social issue that you feel strongly about. Before you begin creating the social media campaign, you use Exorde to research the subject and find out how widespread discussions are, how people feel about the topic, and how this information varies in different parts of the world.

This allows you to create a campaign that is sensitive to people’s feelings and viewpoints and also judge whether it’s the right time to focus on a particular issue.

It’s using data to inform marketing decisions on a whole new level; helping you to predict likely responses rather than the current approach which is, for all intents and purposes, “let’s put it out there and see what happens.”

There are endless business and marketing applications for Exorde.

  • Find out how people feel about your brand (or even that of a competitor)
  • Get rapid, targeted feedback on your marketing campaign without having to survey a single person.
  • Get swift first-feedback analysis on your new movie, game or music release.
  • Find out which parts of the world are feeling most positive and appreciative about your creative project.
  • Get a balanced picture on what people are saying about a current debate or controversy without having to rely on the accuracy of news platforms.
  • Make smarter investing decisions in stocks and crypto by monitoring online attitudes (you can see a BETA example of this at Exorde.io which, at the time of writing, is monitoring BitCoin on an ongoing basis.)

Thin Line Between Business and Pleasure

Marketing is always at its best when it’s integrated with people’s everyday experience, rather than sitting outside of it. Television commercial breaks and billboard advertising have their place, but nothing beats a marketing campaign that people consume and share in the same way they consume and share that funny thing that Aunty Sheila posted last night on Facebook.

Social media is a critical tool for business but a strong following and presence is only the start. In the long-term, thriving on social media is going to require entwining your business outreach with everyday social conversations.

And instead of reacting to the conversation… influencing and driving it.

Exorde is going to be a key tool for this very purpose.

If you have questions about the Exorde protocol, please feel free to contact us or visit our Discord: https://discord.gg/AgRdQaMz5d

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