The next Twitter doesn't yet exist, but could well be one that exploits location based services. Google Latitude was less successful than I expected - maybe users weren't ready for it - but we've only seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to location based services, which will include web search, games and networking. The first social network to exploit these (who knows, it could even be Twitter) will be very successful.
MySpace. Murdoch's not one to roll over and die. Expect big changes from MySpace in the next 12 months.
The next "Twitter" will be a tool that provides the functionality of a platform like Twitter but that provides greater filtering, personalisation and contextualisation. Focusing more on bringing what you want to the surface based upon preferences and search. I haven't seen it yet, but will be interesting when it comes.
Google Wave seems set to become the next ‘no-right-way-to-use-it' platform. I see a lot of potential with the ‘enable and laissez-faire' development of platforms. The question becomes: How far can we take it? Using the beta preview I can see it has the potential to totally change the client/PRO relationship with real-time collaboration. In crisis-communications it might just be invaluable. If Google applies some Googlejuice to it, there's no telling how far it could be adopted.
The BBC. Although there's been confusion over various media reports, the BBC has confirmed that significant changes are on the way, including allowing people to comment directly on stories and tapping user feedback more generally. The changes may not be path breaking, but when they are rolled out by an organisation with two of the ten most popular websites in the UK (and the only two owned by non-American firms), the impact on British online world will be big.
Interactive and tagged video blogging. Latest iphones allow you to record and edit your movies on the go and then share them on social networks. But wouldn't it be great if you could easily tag your friends in the video so viewers can then click on the actual video to go to those profiles, plus reply to posts with their own easily filmed and edited videos too, in a seamless and easy to use way - YouTube meets Flckr meets Facebook meets Twitter perhaps?
Everyone is talking about Google Waves, it's certainly impressive, but also quite complicated, which raises an interesting question about the penetration of new technologies and their mass appeal. As Google have identified the future lies in multiple feeds in real time from multiple channels. People will be (and some already are) forming their own personalised hubs rather than there being one stand out channel that everyone's on (other than Google!). This in turn is going to add momentum to the rise in people using mobile to go online, which will add relevance to the use of geo-tagging. At the moment it's only a relatively small minority of internet users that are doing things like aggregating their Twitter, Facebook etc. all at the same time because it's clunky, fiddly and most people don't have the need or desire to be in a million places at once, yet.
I don't think that we will see the next ‘Facebook' or ‘Twitter', at least not for a few years. This is because current users have invested so much time developing strong networks of friends and acquaintances on both of these popular platforms. Instead, I think it's more of a case of where both Twitter and Facebook, and similar services will evolve into.
At MS&L we have the opinion that there are two key factors at work that will shape how both of these sites will operate in the next few years: The ongoing growth of user generated content (UGC) shows no sign of slowing. 25% of the top search results for the top 25 global brands being UGC. As a result, we are seeing growing demand for a real time search engine that can identify and amalgamate all UGC based around certain keywords or tags. Facebook's recent acquisition and incorporate of FriendFeed, its real time search technology and opening up user content on profile walls and pages is a strong move towards this.
The increasing mobilisation of data as a result of internet-capable mobile phones, such as the iPhone. We're seeing the mobile version of sites like Facebook offering different uses and features. We think this sort of differentiation will continue as handset manufacturers incorporate various media capture and editing functionality into their handsets. Even the Twitter eco-system is beginning to evolve - and Twitter is an interesting platform considering that 80 per cent of all Tweets are made via mobile devices.
One of the most exciting areas of development in social media in location based mobilenetworking. A lot has been said about the future of ‘real time' mobile networking, but the advances of GPS and WIFI have really made this an exciting area of development. Allowing you to connect and share information with people based in your geographic location, Centrl.com is a really interesting networking proposition which I think will be massive in the coming year or two.
FarmVille. It's a game on Facebook that has more daily players than World of Warcraft. It's the largest, fastest-growing social game ever and it's eminently brand-able. Take a look at the social game phenomenon; things like Mafia Wars and Spymaster that sit on top of services like Twitter and Facebook. It's a fascinating opportunity.
Augmented Realtity (AR) is going to be massive. Where once stood Instant messaging, Blogs, Facebook and Twitter, will now stand Real Time and information Augmented Reality channels. Each successful development offers a human enhancing capability and Augmented Reality will allow us to instantly visualise information and expand the real world in which we live, in the same way that Twitter offers faster communication with communities beyond being a Town Crier.
Twitter has swept all before it with unprecedented growth over the last year, gaining an international profile and becoming common parlance - a rare feat. But with online innovation showing no sign of slowing and the thirst to "do more now" continuing, what will be "the new Twitter"? With social media/networking here to stay, we are very much in the "shakedown" phase - but what's next? We believe that it will be a jump from conversational "2D" to true-collaborative "3D".
Many Twits already use their mobiles to send updates and read other tweets. With mobile devices becoming more powerful and affordable, the idea of "augmented reality" may be round the corner. With location intelligence in place and consumers used to interacting via voice and text, the demand to add reality to social networking will arrive - point your phone at a restaurant and immediately see reviews of it and leave your own. Play an online game and "see" the enemy added to familiar streets.
Actually "meeting" people online before you do in the flesh will be the norm. And the idea of separate forms of communication will gradually disappear - conversations, collaboration, direction and meetings will all be shared in a virtual space where themes are tracked rather than linear discussions. What will it be called? When will it happen? If I could tell you that...
As Twitter has yet to hit the tipping point in terms of sign ups in the UK and growth is declining, outside of the Digerati I'm not even sure Twitter is the next Twitter. Faster broadband, faster processing and increasing memory capacity will ensure consumer behaviour continues to change fast. What platforms facilitate that change is not the issue - it's what are you going to do with that change.
If you're currently pre-Posterous, then the ever-so-simple-to-use lifestream tool is worth a try. If Friendfeed doesn't become more user-friendly, Facebook will continue to eat its lunch. Facebook in turn will continue its evolution into an operating system in its own right, mainly because of its device-agnostic nature. Ditto Twitter, which I expect to become more community-focused. Google is the real one to watch. Some day, very soon, the Google home page will cater to our every need. In the meantime, those of us in the know are already all over Faxbook, the paper-based social network.