Tuesday, January 13, 2015

2015 predictions for news and social media

In reading articles on year-ahead predictions, I came across a number that touched on journalism and social media.
What follows are some interesting predictions for the news media and social media in 2015:

Drone journalism goes mainstream

The impact of aerial drones on journalism will be as significant as the arrival of 35 mm cameras in the 1920s, says Valerie Belair-Gagnon, executive director of the Information Society Project at Yale Law School.
“In 2015, robots will take on a larger role in crisis journalism, changing coverage of natural disasters, protests, and armed conflicts,” Belair-Gagnon said in a blog post. “Drones going mainstream has serious implications both for the future of journalism and for researchers of journalism.”
This week, CNN signed an agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration to explore the use of drones in newsgathering and reporting. (See articles by the Huffington Post and National Journal.)

Journalists in demand at tech companies, big brands

“Journalists will be in high demand as big brands hunt for content editors, and tech platforms from Google to Twitter build out their own content marketing opportunities,” Shafqat Islam, co-founder and chief executive officer of NewsCred, a content marketing platform, said in a blog post. “You’ll be seeing a lot more requests for ‘data journalists’ and ‘corporate storytellers’ on LinkedIn, and may find yourself seeking out that talent as well.”

The beginning of the end of Facebook’s traffic engine

Facebook has been a big driver of traffic to digital publishers over the last two years, but that torrent of traffic is about to dry up, says Felix Salmon, senior editor at Fusion.
“What Facebook giveth, Facebook can taketh away. (Just ask Zynga.) And 2015 is going to be the year that it starts doing exactly that,” Salmon said in a blog post.
Facebook will decide it’s more important to serve the needs of advertisers than users interested in what third-party publishers are writing, he said.
“Facebook’s algorithm is already working overtime on trying to slim down a virtually infinite range of possible News Feed posts to a much smaller number,” he said. “A significant chunk of the NewsFeed is already ads, so in order to make it into the News Feed if you’re not an ad, you need to be really, really good. Like, one close friend announcing her engagement, or a video of another friend pouring a bucket of ice water over her head, or a long and hilarious comment thread on a third friend’s status update. What’s not really, really good? A link to some random website which has a user experience which Facebook can’t control, and which is probably suboptimal on mobile.”
Facebook is going to turn off the traffic fire hose to external websites this year and the repercussions are likely to be huge, he said.

Google Plus will go extinct

Several pundits think 2015 is the year Google pulls the plug on its social media service Google Plus (aka Google+). Meant as a competitor to Facebook, Google Plus never really caught on.
“With the failure of Google’s Authorship experiment, Google+ now brings no unique value that Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook don’t already provide,” Jayson DeMers, founder of AudienceBloom, told Forbes. “After the highly publicized departure of Google+ chief evangelist Vic Gundotra earlier this year, along with TechCrunch declaring Google+ ‘The Walking Dead’, the platform is quickly making the descent into obscurity.”
Ross Hudgens, founder of Siege Media, agrees.
“In 2015 I think there’s about a 50% chance that Google could completely kill of Google Plus,” Hudgens told Forbes. “I do not recommend companies spend much time investing in the platform.”
Lauren Riley, social media marketing manager for Bubble Jobs, has a similar bleak view for Google Plus.
Google killing the authorship program was a nail in the coffin for the service as far as journalists are concerned, she said.
“A lot of people spent time building their Google+ profiles in a hope that their content would appear higher in search results, but now that Authorship’s been scrapped, it wouldn’t be surprising to see people migrating away from the network, and Google ultimately closing the project,” Riley said in a blog post.

Facebook will violently implode

Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel thinks Facebook will “violently implode the same way Yahoo did,” Business Insider reported.
Facebook’s ad revenue is overdependent on venture-backed startups buying traffic and users. If venture-capital funding for startups dries up, which could happen when the Fed stops printing money, Facebook could suddenly and violently shrink, Spiegel said.
During the dot-com boom, Yahoo grew fat on advertising revenue from venture-funded dot-coms. But that gravy train ended with the dot-com bust.

Photo: A DJI Phantom drone explores Norway from the sky.

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