The Future of Social Networks

The big news across all Social Networks is that Facebook now has one-on-one Video Calling via Skype! Many speculate that this was in response to the recent launch of rival, Google, and their new and very powerful social network Google+.   Google Plus launched with video chat capability, but took it one step further -- Hangouts!

When a user initiates a Hangout, multiple users can join in a video call at one time -- up to 10 people.  Currently Google+ is in beta and is not open to the general public.  But early adopters, including myself, are for the most part finding it to be a positive experience, and believe that its presence can only make Facebook better.

At least for now, the majority of my online interaction will still be on Facebook.   And honestly, I don't really see that changing in the near future.  Yes, Google+ has some cool features, but still nothing to compel me to completely ditch Facebook.  Facebook is the largest Social Network on the Internet with over 750 million active daily users!  Among those users, are my family, friends, online associates and followers of this blog.  So I ask you, why would I leave?  My loyalties are not to Facebook, but to you.  Wherever you are, that's where I'm going to want to be -- regardless of new tricks.

During today's Facebook event, Mark Zuckerberg shared some interesting trends about past and future growth for social networks, that I found very interesting.  Over the last 5 years, social networks have focused their primary attention to acquiring new users -- like you and I.   But now, he says, that chapter is done.  The world now accepts that this type of online connectivity is going to be everywhere.

As Mormons, we see this in how the LDS Church has embraced Social Media and encourages its members to do the same.  I mentioned in a recent post, that not too long ago many local leaders were preaching the evils of the Internet -- particularly sites like Facebook.   That's now changed.  As social networks have evolved, the opportunity to use them for good has increased.  We now have the ability to connect and broadcast the message of the restored gospel, in ways that our pioneer ancestors could never have imagined!

The most powerful trend that is currently being observed, via social networks, is the rate at which average users are sharing stuff with each other -- doubled as compared to a year ago!  Four billion things are shared everyday, excluding individual messages.  I'm pretty certain that Mormons have a lot to do with this, as I've also noted, unscientifically, this trend among members.   In the past I rarely saw members sharing gospel related items, but recently I've seen that changing.

This increase of sharing is expected to continue at an exponential rate!   The future of social media depends upon sites, such as Facebook and the recently launched Google+, to develop greater tools to help users further connections.  Thus we see the nature of competition currently going on between these two online powerhouses!

With so much information being shared, there are many critical of what they feel is a lack of privacy online.  It is a legitimate concern, in proper context.   It is reasonable that individuals should have the right to control personal information about themselves online.  I'm all for this.  My recommendation always -- if you don't want it made public, don't put in on the Internet.  Only share what is absolutely necessary when filling out personal information.  Just because information is requested, does not mean that you must provide it.

Of more concern to me, is the issue of exclusivity.  I become worried when features on social networks, that are intended to help us organize our online world and protect our privacy, actually result in greater exclusivity.  If our desire while using social networking sites is to broadcast our message, how can we accomplish this if we've shut ourselves off from our potential audience?

It's a wonderful things to be able to connect with our close family and friends, online.  But I would also encourage you to be open to meeting new people online and accepting friend requests, allowing people to follow you, etc...   from those you don't know personally.  Remember, you can just as easily reverse a request, if for any reason you choose to do so.  You will find that the majority of these types of requests, are friends with someone that you do know, online.

Social Networks are places online where we gather to make connections with people, and to share with others that which we consider valuable --  through the use of social media.  Social Media are various forms of a message: video, audio, text, pictures, blogs, etc...   Together, when properly utilized, we have a very unique and powerful way to share the gospel.  But how effective are we really, if we've closed off our ability to connect with those who may be willing to receive our message?

In my opinion, the most effective use of any Social Network, is the ability to connect with large groups of like-minded people, that you otherwise would not have had the privilege, and influence in positive ways.

The future of social networking is literally, in its increasing power, to deliver a message.  Surely the Greatest Message to be sent into all the world will be a part of this movement -- but that can only happen if you and I are willing to expand our influence to DO MORE good!

Social Networking in Plain English



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  2. Great points, Kathryn. IMHO you are spot on in your observations.

  3. I agree completely and it is something I've been thinking about a lot lately. It seems like the online world can bring out one of two things in people, and in particular, regarding sharing the gospel

    People end up being more mean. So those against the church are more vocal and members get defensive and end up not really acting Christ-like.


    Church members isolate themselves and not share the gospel or talk about the gospel outside of with other members.

    I've seen the latter with myself, even recently on Google +. I am apt to share things with the people in my LDS circle. But since I'm only sharing with other members, those who follow me that are not members don't get a chance to hear my beliefs and views on the gospel.

    Another thing I worry about is that as people isolate themselves with others that are like-minded, they tend to get extreme. In Going to Extremes the author talks of evidence that when people of like-minds are isolated, they tend to become more extreme. I don't think that is what Savior wanted when he asks us to become Zion and to be separate from those in the world.


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