There are some major changes in social media for 2019, but two may surprise you.
The Dark Days of Social Media
Recall the days of MySpace?
They had a really great run, and it lasted 5 years in the early days. That was a long time when you consider what the internet started out like in terms of access. MySpace was a first, it was a site made for the casual home user, not someone using it for work. It connected friends, family, and was a must-have for any teenager who wanted to be popular. The more sparkly or stand-out the profile, the better. Facebook took over soon after their decline, and has had a longer run… but even Rome fell
Data & Privacy Breaches
When Facebook’s data breaches happened, there was a public outcry. Governments demanding answers of Zuckerberg and his company weren’t happy with being told it was a part of their terms of service. They wanted to know how something so shameful could happen right in front of everyone because nobody knew about it, it was hidden very carefully, and was deeply obscure within their terms of service.
To say they used it freely and in many grey areas wouldn’t be wrong. When people found out what has likely been going on all along in an effort to form a stronger business through partnerships and deals, they were upset. This has been enough to see some privacy laws change like the often covered Articles 11&13.
Migration of Social Media
Thanks to the downtrend of big social media overall, people who use it regularly can be found on Instagram and Pinterest mostly. The more mobile social apps give users more freedom and appeal to a younger generation, while the older generation also finds them easy enough to use, and appealing enough to keep up with their kids. Both of these platforms are primarly visual, which is no surprise given people love images and easily sharable content. Facebook was born in an age where text mattered.
They’ve done countless updates over the years but many have had to do with the format of what to share changing as society has. In fact, Facebook may be a very valid litmus strip test to determine where society is now, and how far we’ve come.
Google – Emperor of AI
Google is a leader in AI these days, and what it is capable of teaching to a machine is rather incredible. You’ve undoubtedly read about their Deep Dream technology which can produce ‘dream’ imagery the machine creates on its own, and how they’re training their AI to detoxify social media – removing internet trolls, and those intent on fostering hate and discontent.
Companies like Google and Tesla among other giants, lead the way in the tech field and what AI is capable of is vast. How to program it to do so, a bit more complicated.
Who is Making the Changes?
There has always been a need for people to reconnect, after so long in the arms of social media promising us digital friendships, we don’t even know how to interact anymore. Social media, and having the internet ‘handy’ has snuck into our lives in such a way that nobody noticed the quiet invasion, and all who use it will agree that it betters life by making some things easier or faster.
How much of it are we willing to give away before we give away humanity?
These are questions, among others, that legislators wanted the answers to when they began expanding on social media privacy and regulations. How far was social media willing to go with a person’s life because it was ‘only digital’. Our lives are mainly digital these days, but it wasn’t always so. We’re at a strange crossroads in history, a marked moment where middle-aged adults recall the birth of the internet and computers, but also the real joys of going outside to play with friends, climb trees, throw a ball around, or go shopping.
They are among the legislators soon to be, as many in office now are their parents’ age, or still old enough to have been raised without those things as a child themselves. These people are responsible for the big changes in 2019.
Better Working Conditions = Employee Influencers
Transparency is a huge deal in 2019, and should have always been a huge deal but there was a period in the late ’70s and early 80’s when cubicles were all the rage, that companies began keeping tight secrets from their employees and began a ‘right to know’ atmosphere, while telling employees it was an open-door policy or free to talk about anything etc.
It was a period marked by extremely low wages for a high workload, and terrible time-off policies. Somehow, this awful work environment has persisted through until today with many companies continuing to operate the same as they did 40 years ago.
If it’s not broke why fix it? People are tired of it, and see no reason for being kept in the dark, overworked, underpaid and treated like cattle. Companies worth working for or becoming brand ambassadors for, have open floor plans, sit-to-stand working desks, adjustable lighting for one’s own work area, benefits beyond sick time and paid time off or healthcare in any variety like time at a timeshare as a perk, free gym membership or discount if you are one somewhere, trips to movies, bonuses of all varieties and a lot more.
The best part about these companies is their transparency. They treat their employees with the value they deserve, because they know happy employees are more productive and stay longer. Less turnover is less money spent wasted on training, by employees who have more and harder work to do than those they’re taking time away to train. It means less time taken from the managers or supervisors who must interview applicants, and a more productive, happier workforce.
Employee Influencers in 2019
This is one of the biggest areas of change in 2019. People may still follow influencers, but with the rise in fake influencers, more savvy companies are turning to their own happy employees. Employee ambassadors is a concept thought of before, but it never really worked before. Back then, handing out flyers didn’t get you too far.
Today, everyone wants that sharable moment, or to give a vote of confidence for their favorite place when someone asks. A company with nothing to hide and happy employees is one everyone will talk about.
The Rise of the Internet Troll
The world has also gotten very cruel.
Since our lives have basically been uploaded for digital use, some people have taken the opportunity to create personas they live behind where nobody can see them. It could be a persona for a game they play, or who they pretend to be on Facebook or Instagram. It could be something crazy or offbeat they’re into that nobody would ever guess, but it has also bred trolls.
Internet trolls are among the worst, but with them being allowed to run rampant for so long, it has served to innoculate the public against most of it, and we’re no longer alarmed or outraged when we see it. Now it’s funny, or ridiculous and after a shake of the head, we move along. People make awful comments on a news article like the abuse of a child which would be wildly inappropriate anywhere, anytime, and people seem to think it’s okay because it’s in the comments section.
Many sites are removing them entirely, but it hasn’t been enough. Google has been looking into how to help remove this if that’s even possible, and we hope they succeed.
Becoming More Human
This is the second area of change, becoming more human – not less, in the face of extreme technology use. The people who see the problems inherent in a fully AI culture are the ones ensuring it doesn’t happen, at least not in the next 40 years or so. As machines took the place of many things once human, the world evolved alongside it.
Not all of it has been great, or a laughable moment like Amazon’s Alexa misunderstanding you. People have developed depression and social anxiety over smartphone and social media use, and it’s only beginning to be talked about like it should have been at the outset. Still, big changes are being made and society is the source of those changes. People want to see the world as a happy marriage between reality and digital life. They seem to want some of the perks of technology, but not all, and that line is awfully thin at times.
It’s in knowing that we don’t need reminders to eat or get up, or to… be human from our desk or our phones. It’s this entire concept that is changing how big companies are keeping their clients.
It’s through storytelling and connecting with people through their own humanity. That’s the one thing that disappeared over the past ten years or more in favor of faster, easier, more efficient.
It’s difficult to even find a business who answers the phone themselves these days without a button press option or voice only options. Don’t do the second option, it is awful to get right and easy to misunderstand people. But big corporations know that to keep people on their side, they need to value them and prove it.
There is no better way to do that than actual customer care by actual people. The posts that matter today, are storytelling style, and they paint a vivid picture, are unafraid of emotion, and seek to connect with someone’s heart or soul rather than their wallets. The hope is to stamp out the ugliness of the internet troll era by providing a happy balance of life and digital life.
Since society often mimics what they see, businesses responding to their distrust of social media, and the need for transparency will help spread the goodwill to others. That’s a trend to be known for!