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To paraphrase science fiction writer William Gibson, the future of social media is here, it’s just not evenly distributed. We all know that video is taking over the web, and that new technologies like AI and VR are starting to make their presence felt. But what, exactly, can we expect for social media in 2018?
We’re going to see a massive wave of consolidation
Expect some big M&A deals to rock the world of digital media in 2018. And some of the combinations might not make complete sense. Just as Jeff Bezos scooped up the struggling Washington Post in 2013 in a unique deal combining West Coast tech with East Coast media, will 2018 be the year that Silicon Valley companies start sniffing around for potential M&A deals for digital media companies trading at all-time low valuations? Imagine what would happen, for example, if Facebook tried to buy the New York Times. And everybody knows the big cable companies like Comcast are rumored to be looking for deals, inspired by the Verizon-Yahoo deal.
Virtual reality and augmented reality finally become “a thing”
We’ve heard so much advance hype about virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), but 2018 might finally be the year that everything comes together. Remember – Facebook is going to be rolling out the Oculus GO $199 VR headsets next year, and Apple is getting very active in the AR space. Everyone is looking for a way to bring AR to the mobile phone and other digital devices. The big buzzwords could become “immersive tech” or “AR eyewear.”
Text makes a grand comeback
You thought video was taking over the web and text was dead? Silly you. In reality, it looks like text is making a comeback in the form of innovative new mobile app offerings. In short, text is moving from the desktop to the mobile device. One app, for example, that people are talking about is the storytelling app Yarn, which enables readers to experience stories as a series of text messages shared between characters. Text could prove easier to monetize than video – and thus, might once again prove appealing for the big social media giants.
Facebook tries to go toe-to-toe with Netflix
In many ways, 2017 became the year that everyone tried to get into the streaming video game. And it looks like 2018 is only going to see an intensification of those efforts, as Facebook looks for a way to create a massive, globally distributed video streaming platform that can rival anything Netflix (or Hulu or Amazon) can come up with. And here’s the real wildcard – it looks like Apple is planning to get into the streaming video game as well with original content programming.
Artificial intelligence becomes the new “must-have” for content marketers
In the world of content marketing, you want to ensure that you have as many “hits” as possible, and one way of doing that is by using data and predictive analytics. So you can see why artificial intelligence (AI) is so promising – it could offer content marketers and social media gurus the ability to maximize views, engagement and interactions.
If just a handful of these trends hit big over the next 12 months, we could be looking at another exciting cycle of growth for social media.