Well, it's that time again. It's the end of one year, and the beginning of another. A few years ago, I made a New Year's resolution to stop making New Year's resolutions, and that is the only New Year's resolution I ever kept.
There are a lot of predictions for 2012. I'm sure you have heard about the Mayan one prophesying the end of the world in 2012. I guess if that one comes true, the rest of this won't matter, anyway. 2012 is also shaping up to be an important election year in the United States, and there are a lot of predictions about who will be the next U.S. President. I'm going to let someone else go out on that limb.
There are also a lot of predictions about what will happen with technology and social networking in 2012, and I'm going to jump into the fun on that one. Now, keep in mind, these predictions are from someone who enjoys watching social networking trends - namely, me. So, if I'm wrong, please don't blame Tim and the rest of the gang at WebRevelation. Of course, if I turn out to be right, you can give him a little credit for hiring such an insightful social networking guru. Ha!
Anyway, these are a few things I expect to see happen in the world of social networking in 2012.
"Google Plus" will find a niche market, and remain largely insignificant to most of the world. While I like a lot of the things the folks at Google do, their social networking attempts just keep falling flat. They really aren't offering anything new, or of enough significant value to make most of us want to drag our network of friends over to Google. Also, they have been so callous and blatant in manicuring their user base for aggressive marketing, that it's making a lot of folks nervous for privacy and security reasons.
YouTube will continue to grow and prosper. Although I haven't been impressed with Google's social networking attempts, I really do like what they've done with YouTube over the last few years. They've recently made some changes that have made the site even more user friendly, and are quickly establishing themselves as THE place to be for anyone wanting to share visual media, including already famous and aspiring performing artists. I fully expect that site to continue to grow and prosper throughout 2012.
Facebook will become the foundation, rather than just the destination, for social networking. Facebook and Google both have taken advantage of a very unique time in world history, when technology companies were allowed to develop with relatively little regulation. That window of opportunity is closing fast (partially because these two industry giants went too far with their liberties), so it is unlikely that any other company will be able to match their success. Facebook has successfully integrated with nearly every other major social networking, technology, and shopping site out there, and is quickly establishing itself as a foundation, rather than just as a place to go to network. Don't be surprised if by the end of 2012, to "facebook" something is simply a generic verb for sharing information online, whether or not the "Facebook" site is actually involved in the transaction.
Twitter will find a way to make a profit, and continue to establish itself as the go-to place for breaking news. Twitter posts are already quoted regularly on the major news networks as "candid" responses from the general public to breaking news events. I fully expect within the next year or two to see either a Twitter Cable TV channel similar to the weather station or a more mainstream-looking presentation of the popular Twitter posts to appear on a view-only news site. My only hope is that Twitter finds a way to do this with private, rather than public funds, to keep its uncensored man-on-the street feel that makes it unique from all of the other news outlets, including the citizen-journo sites.
So there are my predictions. What are yours?