The distinction I’m making is that it’s so much a part of digital life that it seems unfathomable to imagine a world in which you couldn’t tweet out a story you thought other people might enjoy, or check out someone’s c.v. on LinkedIn, or share a picture or anecdote on Facebook, or get a quick laugh out of a video on YouTube. Or destroy your career in the time it takes to tap out 140 characters. It’s hard to remember the Internet pre-social.
And that’s not to mention that Facebook and Twitter are public companies, or that Tumblr is owned by Yahoo. It feels, to me, sort of like the transition from network TV to cable felt in the 1980s. Those of us who grew up in the New York area had a wealth of TV stations before cable hit -– because we had seven of them! But as cable emerged, there came a point when it was hard to even recall what it was like to have, what in retrospect, were such limited options.
What this means for the prediction business in social is that 2014, while not exactly being same old, same old, will be iterative. The revolution, people, is over, even as new platforms emerge and the Internet of Everything may mean it’s possible for your refrigerator to tweet.
With that, here are 2014 predictions for five well-known social platforms, particularly for their ad models. Please comment below and tell me what you think. After the new year, I’ll predict what will happen to five more. Then we can revisit these a year from now so we can all laugh at how horribly wrong I was:
Facebook: The biggest thing to happen to Facebook advertising will be video ads, which are in test now. But, for users, it won’t be that big of a deal. As if preparing all of us for their introduction, suddenly some user videos play without sound automatically in the newsfeed, just as the ads will do. When these video ads become more prevalent, here’s what will happen: A core group of rabid users will whine for a couple of days -- and then go right back to using Facebook the way they always have.
Instagram: Yes, it’s obvious that Instagram, which launched ads in test this year, will continue to expand what company strategists say is an ad model that is working so far. That said, the floodgates to Instagram Ads will not open in 2014 – which will be more because of Instagram not wanting to disrupt the user experience too much, rather than because advertisers won’t be interested. Expect a trickle of ads instead. With Facebook as Sugar Daddy, what’s the rush?
LinkedIn: This is a tough one. The service is now the de facto resume for many people, and its forays into content and advertising are ever more apparent. What it lacks however, is a certain vibrance. On the one hand, that makes sense; it is, of course, the place where our buttoned-up, professional selves are meant to be on display. On the other hand, its stodginess also makes it less a communication platform than a vast resume warehouse. Sure, no one wants to be drowning in InMails all day, but look for LinkedIn to take steps to make it a more open platform compared to other social platforms, which break down barriers instead of erecting them. (Maybe that was more of a wish than a prediction.)
Myspace: Wasn’t 2013 supposed to be the year of its comeback? My prediction for 2014 is … whatever.
Pinterest: Pinterest will really make good on its extensive promise as an advertising and ecommerce platform, a prediction that’s so obvious, it’s actually embarrassing to make it. It’s like predicting a privacy controversy at Facebook. The main reason Pinterest will start to make good is the hiring of ex-Microsoft/Yahoo/Demand Media exec Joanne Bradford, who knows her way around an ANA meeting. Another obvious prediction? The move to revenue-making will upset some users, but it won’t be because of the ads themselves, which will integrate better with the content than on any other social platform. Users will whine about advertising just because it’s there.
Enjoy the holiday!