A New Year, a new round of Social Media.

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It is undeniable that social media is still popular and is still very much active in many people’s lives. It is easily accessible through computers, tablets, mobile phones etc but is the love, the passion we once had for our networking websites still burning with the same level of intensity as the first time Facebook and Twitter first entered our lives?

As social media bubble has grown, integrating itself into almost every faction of our lives, users have steadily educated themselves on how social media can work for and against them. User’s now question the intentions behind individual networking websites changes and what it could mean for them the future. Is this the year the social media bubble will burst?

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Looking at Instagram, who are in damage control mode following changes to their privacy policy which gave Instagram the rights to sell its user’s photos to advertisers without notification.

‘To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you.’

Instagram users did not welcome this change with open arms. Following the less than happy response Instagram removed this from their new terms and conditions which are due to take effect on the 19th January 2013. Was this change in Instagram’s privacy policy a move to monetise the photo sharing website?

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Facebook bought Instagram in 2012, it is not unknown that since becoming a public company the social media network has struggled to generate a substantial income from advertising along with a fall in the networks share price.

As time has gone by, in its attempt to generate a profit from what was once considered a free social networking site, is Facebook becoming less social, less about the users and more about profits and its shareholders? How much of the decisions made by Facebook during the course of 2012 influenced the 600,000 UK users to leave Facebook in December 2012?

I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook, it can be a useful tool when building up a brand but also encourages a narcissistic behaviour. Yet when I heard about the press conference Facebook held on the 15 January 2013 my interest was piqued as to what new changes Facebook announced to the world and how it would affect me on both a personal and a business level.

Before the press conference there were speculations as to what this announcement could be, ranging from a Facebook smartphone to a Facebook search engine. The outcome of Tuesday’s announcement was in fact Facebook were releasing a search engine called ‘Graph Search’. When you think search engine you think of Google, Yahoo, Bing, a tool to search the entire World Wide Web. Facebook’s search engine is specific to Facebook and its user’s activity. User’s will be able to find others who share their interests, likes and dislikes, places your friends have been to. It doesn’t stop there, users will be able to group their search ‘starting with a beta version available to a limited number of users from today’. Into specific subset, such as “my friends who like fencing,” or even “my friends who like fencing and live in San Francisco.“. The success of the new search engine not only relies on user’s engaging with the site but also agreeing to share their information with others. For those of you who do not want to share your information there will be an opt out option. There have been suggestions this search engine could be used to generate revenue with suggestions ‘ ..that Facebook would announce a charge for sending messages to users, an overhaul of its news feed feature or a new advertising network.’  Time will tell, for now the ‘Graph Search’ is being rolled out slowly ‘..starting with a beta version available to a limited number of users…’ Are you one of this ‘limited users’ who have had the pleasure of trying out Graph Search?

For those of you who remember them the first time round, with promotion from Justin Timberlake MySpace was relaunched last year. Is this networking site already set to crash and burn with little hopes of recovery..again? It was reported in November by techcrunch that  MySpace had already made a huge loss of $43 Million. There have been a few concerns that MySpace is heavily emphasising the Justin Timberlake connection, coinciding with the release of Mr Timberlake’s new single. Users are finding it difficult to find the music that interests them. As well as the promotion gimmick in the way of a well known music artist, the website enables its users to log in using their MySpace account login details or their Facebook login details.  Is there a kind of frenemy situation which we the users are not aware of? Nevertheless let’s see how MySpace fares through 2013.

From a business perspective there is little that is considered ‘social’ about social media. It is a tool to build up you / your companies brand and display it to a larger pool of people on a next to nothing budget. A social media strategy does not need to cost the earth if at all, simply take the time to know who your audience are and what is it they want from you, it’s called engagement. This is where the problem lies, many people including the social networking sites are looking at this social world as a profit making enterprise at the expense of its users. We saw Facebook try it by introducing paid advertising and possibly with Graph Search. Instagram tried to incorporate a profit generating clause in their privacy policy. Neither change was received well by their users.

So what does the future hold for social media?  Social media is not going to die out anytime soon, how social media is perceived and used will change. Who will drive this change; User’s, Networking websites, Shareholders; remains to be seen.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-20767537

http://business.transworld.net/118344/features/instagrams-privacy-policy-and-terms-of-service-update-the-first-ones-always-free/

http://instagram.com/about/legal/privacy/updated/

http://techcrunch.com/2012/11/19/myspace-music-streaming-service-no/

http://www.businessinsider.com/mark-zuckerbergs-right-hand-man-is-working-on-a-secret-project-to-change-how-you-gets-your-tv-news-and-music-2013-1

http://www.businessinsider.com/mark-zuckerbergs-right-hand-man-is-working-on-a-secret-project-to-change-how-you-gets-your-tv-news-and-music-2013-1

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2013/jan/14/facebook-loses-uk-users-december

http://www.dazeinfo.com/2013/01/15/facebook-unveil-big-secrete-today-facebook-phone/

http://blog.instagram.com/post/38143346554/privacy-and-terms-of-service-changes-on-instagram

http://instagram.com/about/legal/privacy/updated/

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