The way I see it, there are two possible paths down which the Social Media snowball could roll. That's not to say that there isn't a large middle ground, but Social Media has evolved with such ferocity, that it has the potential to put Sir Isaac Newton's hypothesis front and center… "To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction."
The most likely scenario remains that individuals and businesses will become even more wedded to FaceBook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and the next generation of sites that follow. There is just too much potential for these sites to continue to attract new audiences and enhance the ways they are being utilized, thereby becoming more engrained in our lives.
That being said, I do believe that new channels will emerge at the expense of today's most popular ones, so it is vital to keep up with changes in the marketplace. MySpace comes to mind as a community that has been surpassed by others. Wildly successful as a trailblazing platform, it is an afterthought for most people and marketers today.
Given that the future direction of Social Media presents many unknowns, it is through gaining a solid understanding of and foundation with the current Social Media channels that organizations will be able to fully leverage whatever comes next. To think you can just wait for the next iteration before jumping in, is like thinking that you can code a website without knowing the basics of html.
On the other hand, as I alluded to in the title of this article, there is another possibility, as remote as it may be, wherein society collectively gets tired of running on the Social Media hamster wheel and people start to wean themselves off of the programs. As a result, Social Media becomes less cool and less relevant.
If that happens, there will surely be something else which takes its place and that captures the mindshare of the internet audience. No matter what form that new medium takes, it will no doubt be layered on top of the internet and Social Media as we know it today. This is why it's so imperative to gain a foothold with what is going on currently. There have never been any shortcuts to becoming proficient with internet marketing. The school of hard knocks continues to provide the best education. Take advantage of the current opportunity to experiment with Social Media and all of the ancillary benefits that it can deliver, in order to remain poised to tackle future developments and outgrowths that arise.