Social media as we know it has continued to evolve. With every conference or social media exhibition that you visit or participate, you’ll see how many social media and web application challenges now have compelling and viable solutions.
Whether it is to find and keep in touch with online friends or for the latest social media news, we seem to have incorporated social media into every aspect of our daily lives. With so many solutions on display, here are five of the “cannot seem to get away from” problems that social media and web applications still have yet to successfully address:
Online Search Excess:
Online search remains largely disconnected from the social web, even though Social Media and Search have had an intertwined relationship in their emerging development. Try browsing Facebook to doing a Google search, and you’ll barely see the influence of the social web on the results that get delivered. There are tools that let you crowdsource the search process, but we’re only beginning to see the incorporation of socially-produced knowledge into our primary search tools. When Google search knows what I want to see based on who I’m friends with on Twitter, Facebook and FourSquare — and more importantly, who I pay attention to i.e., collective, friend-filtered, collaborative search — then it will get interesting. Meanwhile, you’ll continue to sift through pages of irrelevant search results.
Contact List Confusion:
Lets say you sign up with a handful of social networks and web services — think Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and FourSquare — and you’ve got multiple lists of contacts to manage in each place. Most of these services let you import contacts from at least two of the others, and even do repeat imports to find friends who’ve recently signed up for a service you’ve used for a while. However, you get the most out of each of these social tools when you take the time to update your contact information, organizing them around different contexts and level of closeness within the relationship. Having said that, work has yet to be done to keep your Twitter lists in sync with your Facebook lists, or to create LinkedIn relationships that reflect your contact information in Gmail. With so many networks and contacts to keep organized, no wonder we are unable to have a fully satisfying experience with any one network.
Information Highway Overload:
RSS started as a way to aggregate all the streams of content we found online, but today we’re more likely to be drowned in a river of feeds — not to mention e-mail, texts, updates, multimedia messages etc. We’ve got great tools for creating, finding, organizing and viewing content, but very little to help us sort out and manage the volume of information that is now available online. The challenge of information overload and attention management isn’t just a technical problem, there needs to be some better tools that would address this issue.
Now that social media is this major force to be part of in marketing, big brands have moved in to seize the opportunities for brand and relationship building. From destination sites to heavily-branded fan pages on Facebook and other networks, social web is transforming into an immersive advertisement. Marketers, social networks and consumers have a stake in finding new ways to create value for site sponsors and advertisers, without eroding the authenticity and trust that are essential to the success of online relationships and social networks.
Lack of Social Concern:
Designers and developers of social media and applications represent the gatekeepers of what is rapidly becoming the world’s most influential medium. Yet only a sliver of that brain power is trained on the world’s pressing environmental and social problems. That miniscule portion has generated some interesting experiments and examples of how social media can bring about social and environmental solutions and be a catalyst for social change. However, we’ve yet to see any evidence that social media will deliver on its world-changing potential. Finding and deploying compelling, scalable models for social and environmental innovation online may be the social web’s toughest challenge — and it’s most crucial one.
If these challenges are still unsolved as social media and applications continue to evolve, it is because few of them are amenable to a strictly technical solution. Design, strategy and most of all social analysis will all be needed to find answers to the problems above.