The continuing evolution of social media is determined by our principal mode of communication.
Verizon Wireless announced changes to its price structure this week, and the Internet is buzzing about it. Verizon is beginning a new Share Everything program where data purchased by the GB applies to all a user’s devices, whether laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Unlimited data plans, although grandfathered in, were discontinued over a year ago, and those who choose to stay with this plan can no longer receive a discount on a smartphone or device. How will this change affect the users of Facebook, Twitter, and other social media?
Isn’t it funny how social media has gone through some changes since first identified as such in the late 1990’s? If we look closely, we can see how the availability of technology has changed how we communicate. Learning from the past trends, it is possible to speculate about how we will communicate electronically in the near future.
In the early days of the Internet, email was king. People wondered if email would soon sound the closing bell on the United States Postal Service as we know it. Internet charges were originally by the minute, so long correspondence was written out while offline to be sent when the modem dialed up a connection. Suddenly, friends and family were keeping in touch like never before through this new form of social media.
After Internet providers succumbed to Internet-crazy consumers and offered unlimited Internet plans, people began to use instant messaging on the computer as an even faster way to communicate. The most social among us, the teens, literally spent hours in from of AIM, AOL’s instant messaging service. Real time conversations became the norm. About this time, young people discovered MySpace and a whole new social media playground was born. Facebook was still in its very early, geeky beginnings at this point.
During this time, a good old cordless phone began to slowly be replaced by cell phones. As more and more people found themselves running up huge bills by exceeding their allotted minutes chatting with other cellular friends. text messaging became an option. Unlimited Text Messaging plans moved into vogue and it became a common sight to see people text messaging almost anywhere and anytime. Very few teens actually used any of their minutes on calls; texting became so well-utilized. But, pity the parents who didn’t realize that their plan had a limit on text messages until they got a little cell phone bill shock!
Unlimited Data Plans created a whole new Mobile Internet navigated by cell phones, and even smarter cell phones followed close behind. The past several years most people have practically lived on their mobile phone, cruising the Internet, playing movies, and most of all, using social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
Consumers have been constantly bombarded by gizmos, gadgets, smartphones, and tablets. He who has the most apps, bells, and whistles at the end wins. People have become so accustomed to posting about their day’s events and perusing others’ status updates that they are literally lost when left without a phone for even a limited time. Besides just normal social media, people are obsessed with playing games, turn by turn, with others all day and night, such as Words with Friends, Farmville, and Draw Something.
As the cell phone market tightens up its belt on the cost of data usage, will people begin to cut down on these popular pastimes? You can read about the new Verizon plan here on their website. Of course, the Unlimited Data plan has not been canceled, but is no longer available for new customers. And, in an attempt to encourage customers to leave the extinct unlimited plan and join the Share Everything plan, new upgraded devices are no longer available at a discounted price to customers on their unlimited data plan.
As the use of a smartphone or tablet to download and upload data begins to be more of a purchase and less of a service, will people use Facebook and Twitter as much on their phones? As new accounts are set up and unlimited data plans become a thing of the past, unlimited calling and texting have become part of each of the options. Will people actually begin to make phone calls again? It is doubtful, but will text messages, which have never been out of vogue, take the place of Facebook and Twitter? Or, will social media junkies pay for the big data packages to continue with life as they know it?
What do you think?