The Future of Social Media: Shifting Business Models and Synthetic Kinship


Hatched by Glasp

Sep 04, 2023

3 min read


The Future of Social Media: Shifting Business Models and Synthetic Kinship

In today's digital landscape, social media has become an integral part of our lives. We use it to connect with friends, share our experiences, and stay up to date with the latest news and trends. However, the way social media operates is constantly evolving, and new business models are gaining traction.

Traditionally, social media companies relied heavily on advertising as their main source of revenue. However, startups are increasingly exploring alternative monetization methods such as subscriptions, in-app payments, and e-commerce. These experiments are showing promise on a small scale and could potentially reshape the way we interact with social media in the future.

One key aspect of this shift is the recognition that time is our most valuable resource. As the philosopher Henry David Thoreau once said, "The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it." Upstart companies like BeReal, Poparazzi, Mastodon, and Post News are aiming to provide a better use of our time on social media. They are shifting the focus from social interaction to media consumption, offering a more curated and personalized experience.

Another trend in the social media landscape is the increasing polarization of traditional media. A study by Pew Research in 2019 revealed that news consumption in the United States is heavily influenced by political affiliations. Subscriptions and in-app payments align better with the hit-driven nature of social media companies, allowing them to cater to specific audiences without relying solely on advertising revenue.

Additionally, social media platforms are beginning to explore the integration of e-commerce. TikTok, for example, has already shown that social networks can act as gateways to online shopping. By incorporating e-commerce functionalities, social media companies can tap into new revenue streams and provide a more seamless experience for users.

Looking ahead, social media may also draw inspiration from immersive games when it comes to business models. Platforms like Roblox have successfully monetized through in-world economies, offering avatar accessories, game upgrades, and special experiences. The next generation of social media giants may shift their focus from capturing attention to creating functional, multifaceted economies.

Beyond business models, the future of social media may also witness the rise of synthetic kinship. Humans inherently crave a sense of belonging and connection with a larger group. While currently, this can only be achieved through interactions with other humans, it is plausible that in the future, we may have synthetic friends and loved ones. AI could be used to create billions of synthetic personalities to interact with human participants, blurring the lines between real and artificial connections.

In light of these emerging trends, here are three actionable pieces of advice for social media companies:

  • 1. Embrace alternative monetization methods: Instead of solely relying on advertising, explore subscription models, in-app payments, and e-commerce integrations. This diversification can provide new revenue streams and ensure the sustainability of your platform.
  • 2. Focus on creating functional economies: Take inspiration from immersive games and build multifaceted economies within your social media platform. Offer unique experiences, virtual goods, and other value-added services to enhance user engagement and monetization opportunities.
  • 3. Prioritize user experience and personalization: As social media becomes more saturated, users are seeking curated and personalized experiences. Invest in algorithms and AI technologies to deliver tailored content and interactions that resonate with each user's preferences and interests.

In conclusion, the future of social media is set to undergo significant transformations. By shifting business models, embracing alternative monetization methods, and exploring the potential of synthetic kinship, social media companies can stay ahead of the curve and provide users with more meaningful and engaging experiences.

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