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January 2nd, 2013

The Continued Evolution of Media Platforms

So this is the place I should be making some sort of predictions about what’s to come in 2013, right? I should be pontificating on how this will be the year of engagement, or the year near field communications sends promoted Facebook posts straight to your Google Glass headset or some such, is that the thing? Because in all honesty I’m always aghast at attempts to do so since there’s almost never a year – heck, almost never a week – where the endpoint is so drastically different than what was foreseen at the start.

By way of example let’s look at Instagram. No, this isn’t more faux outrage over a small (and not that big a deal unless you purposely read it looking for opportunities to get your outrage on) change to the terms of service there.¬†Instead it’s about Instagram embracing the web.

Earlier this year Instagram, which had heretofore been almost exclusively based on mobile platforms, gave photographers sharing their pics there a web presence they could link to and on which their fans could Like photos and leave comments. In and of itself that was a big change to Instagram’s public identity and the way people could interact with photos and others.

But then it made another interesting step when they launched an aggregator page for New Years Eve photos, marking what I believe to be the first time Instagram has taken to collecting photos published on their service and created a destination for them. Meaning a service that was purely mobile just a year ago is now driving people to a web page on purpose.

Anyone see that coming? Cause I don’t remember seeing “Instagram starts to sever its sole reliance on mobile” on any lists a year ago.

(Bonus points to anyone who saw this launch and thought “Huh, that seems more like something Twitter would do than anything Facebook has ever done” and then chuckled to themselves at random times while getting odd looks from family members.)

And the fact that it came out of the blue means the only prediction that’s ever safe to make is that things will change. Some people may be bored with the state of the tech industry (something that I think has more to do with the press’ reliance on covering funding, patents and the like than any real lack of innovation) but the reality is things are always in flux. There are always changes happening and very few of them can be seen coming down the road. In other words, if you’re bored it’s because you’re not paying attention.

2013 will have lots of such changes happening. As professional communicators it’s not our job to see the future happening, though we obviously can make intelligent predictions as we put together client programs. It is our job to watch what’s happening and make any necessary adjustments based on what has or hasn’t changed. So good luck with your predictions but make sure that the guidance being given or taken isn’t based on predictions but on the ever-changing reality in front of you.

About the Author
Chris Thilk works on the Client Services team, part of Voce Connect, developing and executing social media strategy. You can follow him at @christhilk on Twitter.

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