Facebook will announce the end of Timeline
It’s been a year since the announcement/rollover from the Wall to the Timeline. In vase you’ve forgotten, this was heralded as the worst Facebook move of all time and it was going to allow Google+ to take over. Not by me–even I’m not so bold. But a year later and your Timeline is basically a two column Wall. Some people built out some photos, added some events, but it didn’t revolutionize the way we interact with our personal information.
This is a problem for Facebook. Now that they’re public they need to make more money and the best way to do that is through advertising. Facebook also knows that the highest rates for ads are the most personalized ones–and wouldn’t the user’s Timeline be the best place to present highly relevant, micro-targeted ads? Problem is that most people spend time on their stream of news, not their Timeline. That’s why we see ads in our feeds now. But Facebook will change that.
I predict Facebook will announce a new personal gateway in Facebook in 2013 designed to be your landing page rather than your feeds. It will incorporate items posted by your friends (that’s why you’re on Facebook, after all) but also present more topical news, local information, even highlight some of your relationship activity when a friend pops up. All designed to keep you glued to the page and see the lucrative ads Facebook will display. You may be outraged and you will be swamped with petitions to bring back Timeline, but ultimately you will change over and forget about it by 2014.
Legal risk: Little given Facebook’s terms, but if they alter Timeline enough to lose life events that people want tracked without a way to export that data, there could be some nuisance lawsuits over the lost functionality.
Twitter will focus on users who don’t tweet with new notification system or content aggregation
Twitter continues to grow and there’s a huge population who send a barrage of content into the Twitterverse. But the majority of activity on Twitter is reading, not posting. And there is a sizable population that don’t post any content but just read other tweets. Some projections have that group as high as 40% of all Twitter accounts.
Given Twitter’s increasing advertising revenue and a large group that are just consuming content, it makes sense for Twitter to offer new features for these users. Not that they’ll focus exclusively on these consumers–you have to keep the content rolling in–but I expect to see a more robust notification system to replace the current minimal approach. Perhaps a merging with the Discover tab (Twitter’s first attempt at content aggregation) or an expanded effort to show users what information is trending based on who they follow or topics they’re interested in. We’ve seen growth over the years of content aggregation social platforms like paper.li and storify. Twitter has a giant amount of content–if they can figure out how to present it in expanded ways to their consuming population, we could see some huge changes in the platform next year.
Legal risk: Also little here, although I could see some groups within the Twitter consuming community that might get upset if their usage data is being sold to advertisers. There’s no predicting who will get upset over something (well, there is–everything will upset somebody) but a group who publishes less information on a platform may have a greater expectation of privacy (realistic or not) that could result in more hurt feelings if something changes. And hurt feelings is the first step to nasty lawsuit.
Groupon will go out of business
Groupon famously brushed off a $6 billion buyout offer from Google just two years ago. At the time, prospects seemed high and one year later Groupon went public and saw its shares rise over 30% the first day.
And when was the last time you bought one?
A flood of copycats combined with all the interesting deals getting used up that first year has turned social coupons from cool to exhausting. Add more focus on regulations and a mix of class actions and I think Groupon is one large mistake from disappearing.
I predict that mistake will happen in April when they mistakenly publish a deal to a large retailer who didn’t approve the offer leading to so many refunds, complaints, and lawsuits that they’ll shut down for good.
Legal risk: Groupon has been the single throat to choke when their deals go wrong thanks to a local business going under or a deal getting fouled up. If Groupon goes under leaving no way for the local businesses to redeem the offers I could see a slew of extra lawsuits over the leftover Groupon crumbs.
Foursquare will enter the mobile payment business
Foursquare has connected with American Express and local businesses to offer promotions when you check into a business and make a purchase. With enough experience under its belt, Foursquare will start providing its own mobile payment service. Probably in partnership with another provider because payment tech is a lot of work.
This will open up a number of interesting offers beyond the convenience. Imagine checking into a local store, paying from your smartphone screen, then being offered the chance to post about your purchase for 50 cents off the total. Or a special 10% coupon broadcast to all your friends within a few miles of the store.
Legal risk: Thinning the line between purchasing and marketing/endorsing a product/store can be dangerous. While such seamless activity could provide some unique revenue streams, it could also create some legal risks if a security setting goes amiss or offers are sent out without consent.
Google will buy Pinterest
Google has done some great things with Google+. The problem is that not enough people know about it. The +1 button has great metrics–the rest, not so much. And while the site design is clean and modern, the content is a bit stale outside of tech and social media topics. Pinterest, on the other hand, has engaging content but not great ways to interact with it. And it attracts a demographic that Google+ probably doesn’t have a lot of. All good ingredients for an acquisition.
Google would gain the references that Pinterest famously produces, not to mention the content that could feed into search results. Pinterest could also break through into a major network as opposed to a site for wedding dresses, craft ideas, and recipes.
Legal risk: Pinterest has a number of copyright concerns and if it expands more than those issues could be brought to the forefront. Google is best equipped to address those concerns, however, but the resulting lawsuits could be large and expensive.
So those are my predictions for 2013. Another prediction: None of these five will actually happen in 2013.
What’s your bold and baseless prediction for social media in 2013?