Social media changes as often as your teenage sister’s profile picture. Beginning this year, we can expect some changes in social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. With the unprecedented rise in the popularity of said platforms (over one-fourth of the world’s population now uses a social media network), these platforms change with user tastes, needs and wants.
One characteristic expected to flood social networks is the ability to transfer money and make purchases on these sites. This began in November 2014 when Snapchat introduced “Snapcash” to its users. This system allows users who are over 18 years old and have a debit card to securely input their card information, which can then be used to send money to other Snapchat users. Other social media sites are expected to follow suit. Hackers have also discovered that Facebook could activate a payment feature in its Messenger app that could allow its 200 million users to send money to others free of charge. This feature is beneficial to social media companies because they can potentially make billions of dollars from fees and extra charges.
Along with the ability of social media to serve as a wallet, it will become common for users to be able to shop directly from social media websites simply with the click of a button. Twitter and Facebook have already began testing options that would eliminate the hassle that businesses face by persuading users to go on their website to purchase products they have advertised on social media. This will benefit businesses immensely because people will be able to buy as they see. If you happen to pass by a shirt or technological device that you like, you can buy it then and there without having to leave whatever platform you are on. Impulse shopping could increase as people buy things based on whatever emotion they are feeling at the moment, rather than after careful consideration.
Other changes in social media that should be expected include the rise in new social media outlets. Yik Yak, for example, has taken college campuses by storm. It allows its users to contribute completely anonymous posts, which can be viewed by other users within the area. As a member of the Yik Yak community, I can attest to its intrigue. It’s interesting to read what people say when they know it is anonymous. Yik Yak has proved its resilience and has grown to be used in over 1,000 colleges and universities worldwide. However, not all social media sites will become as widespread as Yik Yak. For this reason, it will be common to see social media sites spring up, and then fade away this year. Also, many niche websites will become more popular with the coming year. Similar social media networks that have tried to compete with Facebook have suffered from a lack of activity when compared to Facebook’s 1.2 billion users.
With the accusations of privacy violations committed by Facebook last year, we can expect to see the popularization of many new social media platforms which aim to protect the privacy and information of its users. Websites such as Ello are already gaining ground. With the uproar among the public concerning the unauthorized access of people’s private information, it can be expected that existing social platforms will be forced to change their practices or lose users to more privacy-friendly websites. As social media continues to dominate the lives of many college students, it will be interesting to watch and keep up with the changes that occur throughout the year.