Trend in Social Media By Shivam Kumar

Fig 1: Some Social networking sites
Social networking is becoming an exciting field of study, especially since it has been under the influence of many different trends. In this paper, the main trends of social networking will be addressed, including both events from the past, present, and future, and propositions as to new methods of improving future social networking.
Early Trends of Social Networking
Fig 2: Growth rate of Social Media
Online social media has been undergoing changes as readily as the underlying infrastructure of the internet changes. The concept of online social networking sites (OSNs) started as early as 1995. However, the content and social network of these sites were much different than today’s OSNs, instead consisting mostly of static information and a few socially interactive features. Tripod, the Globe and GeoCities were pioneers in building these online communities by providing limited web-hosting space in which users could create their own content. The GeoCities network was organized into a pre-defined set of neighbourhoods, forcing users to select a neighbourhood to which their web pages were the most relevant. Even though the early stages of the social networking sites offered features that promoted social interactions, such as chat, message boards, and classified sections, they lacked an efficient social network structure. The next trend involving social networks arrived by the end of the 1990’s. The main features of this generation were the inclusions of personal profiles, the integration of social connections, and functions for browsing/searching friends on a network. The user interface of OSNs became much more user-friendly, so users no longer needed to understand how to build a website design from scratch - instead, they were able to fill in standardized forms to create personal profiles. The users’ engagement in OSNs improved greatly from earlier trends, in which communication with friends was easily accomplished through the usage of bulletin boards, e-mail services and online instant messaging. Ultimately, this created a community of users who could share similar interests. An early developer of this trend was Six Degrees, which after being launched in 1997, reached one million users by 1998; unfortunately, it closed services in 2000. There were a number OSNs which immediately followed suit of Six Degrees, but they were targeted toward different demographic groups. Asian Avenue, Black Planet, Magenta, and World were created for specific ethnicities, Ryze and LinkedIn (2003) for professional and business networks; and My Space for entertainment and music.
Current Trends of Social Networking
 The current trend of social networks started in 2004, with the emphasis being on both building a social network platform that allowed for a variety of applications to access it, and renewing content to improve users’ engagement. Facebook, the leading social network with more than 750 million users, has changed how social networks are perceived: no longer a web application that connects users’ profiles within the network, it has become a platform that can be integrated into web applications, allowing for marketing via the users’ social graph.
Fig 3: Some trending Social media sites.
Most of the major social networking sites offer their platforms for developers, such as Hi5, Orkut, Friendster, Facebook, and Twitter. Having an open platform has made it possible for the integration of many different interfaces to social networks. Not only can Facebook and Twitter be accessed through the web interface, but they can be accessed through desktop applications, smart phone applications, and SMS. Sharing photos, location, and status updates has become much easier, which has encouraged some smartphone manufacturers to start building phones that have dedicated a Facebook button on their keyboard for easier access. This is evidence that social networking has already became a main medium of communication; this can also be supported by the fact that 50% of 750 million users on Facebook visit the site on any given day. It has become more and more evident that OSNs are putting a lot of emphasis on the dynamic content on their sites, which is constantly updated by users. One way of doing that is through manipulating aspects such as the Timeline on Twitter, News Feed on Facebook, or Stream on Google+. Dynamic content is much more valuable than static contents because dynamic content is both updated constantly and actively engages the users on the site. This trend was first pioneered by Twitter, whose main function revolved around broadcasting short and current information to mass audiences. The idea was later inherited by most of the other OSNs. It is now the main feature of many OSNs: 200 million Tweets were sent out on the Twitter network as of June 2011, more than 1 billion pieces of content is shared on Facebook on any given day, and Google+, the latest social network site as of July 20, 2011, already has 10 million users who share 71.4 million items per day, which are great numbers considering that the site has been available for only two weeks.
Future Trend of Social Networking
Fig 4: Future aspect of Social media.
 The future trend of social networking will emphasize on the various ways to share dynamic content. As seen from the current trend of social networking, it is observed that the total number of dynamic contents generated on OSNs is large, but it will become even larger as more users join these online social network sites. Although dynamic content is an attractive feature, many of the items shown there are simply not relevant enough for any user to want to spend a lot of time reading. Additionally, relevant updates from closer friends are easily overlooked since there is such a large volume of information to sort through. In addition, how information is distributed on social networks has to be improved in order to protect users’ privacy. Considering the vast amount of content being generated on these social networks, it is evident that users are willing to share their information to families, friends, and strangers. However, a deeper problem here is that older ideas of involving the privacy of shared information do not support this natural tendency, which inhibits users from posting. Google+, on the other hand, has capitalized on this idea by creating friend circles, so that users share their information to only selected friend circles, ultimately giving the control to the users.
Traditional marketing vs. Social Media Marketing
Practices using social networks (SNS), virtual worlds, user-generated product reviews, blogs, RSS feeds, podcasts, games and advertising which is generated by costumers. Customer involvement with brands or products is the new element in SMM. The traditional view of marketing and communication activities has to be revised in a social media mediated
Fig 5: Graph showing Traditional marketing vs. Social Media Marketing
environment because the marketing is not a one-way process anymore. Customers or other persons who make use of social media apps and participate in SNS are also in a sense marketer. They can influence others by means of product advice, reviews and recommendations. In social media dominated marketplaces word-of-mouth becomes a very important marketing parameter.  Product reviews and ratings written by customers are perceived as more reliable than corporate advertising and even more reliable than product reviews written by product experts. A 2007 study of Deloitte Touche in the USA found that 62% of US consumers read consumer-generated reviews online and 98% of them find these reviews reliable.  Furthermore, 80% of consumers that read peer reviews and product advice say that this type of information has affected their buying intentions. These findings are backed by academic research; Delarosa’s, and Chen and that found that customer-generated reviews have a substantial effect on customer behaviour.  As a result of such findings it has been argued that social media influence is changing the customer decision-making process described in marketing textbooks by adding a new and uncontrollable by marketer’s element the customer voice - in the decision-making model.
Although social networking has gone through many phases, it has ultimately improved enough for the benefit of all its users. General audiences are just starting to realize its value, even though its potentials are still being researched and discovered. Early trends of social networking were free web hosting services that included interactive features and the creation of a social network between personal profiles. However, the most notable shifts from early trends to current trends were that the social network had become a platform and that dynamic content became the overall main feature. Any future trends will most likely be centred around improving privacy and delivering dynamic content to the right people - this means that, in the end, more developments are in store for everyone.

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