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Looking into my crystal ball: The internet

Considering the future of the internet can be exciting, eye opening, or maybe terrifying. It really depends on how you use it now and where you see it going.

We've already established that the internet can be used for very good reasons or unethical purposes, even illegal actions. So it makes sense that its future hangs in the balance of how we use it. We can embrace it to create positive change in the world through our positive and accurate posts, mutually beneficial networking, and even charity funds. Or, we can continue to spread negativity and division, and fail to eliminate scams and illegal activity that cripple the lives of victims.

Whether or not the internet will help or hurt our lives is up to those who use it. There is no way for us to know. But we can estimate some of its future innovations. This is because there are areas of the internet that we haven't taken full advantage of, like social networking and online shopping.

Social networking started as a tool for the military, expanded to academia and business, and now is open for everyday use. This all happened in the span of several decades. Can you imagine the exponential growth it will see in the next several decades? One trend a lot of people are noticing is the explosion of the marketing side of social media. I think that within the next decade we will see social media replace traditional broadcast media as the most highly coveted platform to advertise on.

Currently all of the major social media platforms profit from promoted content in the form of posts. On Facebook, you can "boost" a post for a reasonable price. Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Reddit sell similar ads to companies or even individuals to provide them with extended reach in exchange for money. In essence, this is how advertising began in newspapers, on radio, and on television.

Much like a Super Bowl ad costs approximately $5.25 million, because of its opportunity for widespread exposure, I expect ads on social media to increase in cost and become a more common way to market. With the explosion of certain Facebook pages and Twitter accounts that make them as viable of a media outlet as many TV stations, taking advantage of the reach of these outlets financially will only expand.

Ultimately, so many are looking for ways to monetize the internet, and this is one of the most realistic ways. Social networking will continue to play a huge role in marketing ourselves. We will not only use sites like LinkedIn to present a professional image, but all others. Posting professional content on Instagram is now more essential than ever, as businesses are finding it to be a better marketing tool to a younger demographic than advertising. This has also led to the blurring of lines between personal and professional content on social networking sites. Often times we post personal content to strategically give us a relatable touch, yet post professional content to market ourselves on this same personal account. I expect this trend to continue and expand.

Another area of the internet that I expect to explode in the coming years is online shopping. Yes, Amazon is HUGE, and yes, retail giants like Walmart, Staples, Lowe's, and so many more are rolling out online shopping platforms. But, as of now, going to a physical store is still somewhat the norm. And besides Amazon, all of these online shopping options still primarily profit from in store purchases.

How much longer is Amazon going to dominate the online shopping world? I can imagine they won't have a monopoly on it for much longer. Yes, Amazon will be the primary option for years to come, but I expect more exclusively online shopping options to arise and compete with Amazon. Soon after that happens, we will see even more online marketing driving consumers to these sites, and the internet will become less of a place to share ideas and converse, and more of a place to conduct business. It will be more normal to purchase EVERYTHING online. I mean groceries too. Gum. Maybe gas someday. You'll have an online balance and go to a gas station, enter your password, and start refueling. I see a lot more commerce on the internet coming in the future, because ultimately, what is our motivation to do just about anything? We want to sell. We want to profit. And we want to do it from home, or from anywhere.

What do you think the future of the internet holds? Leave me a comment here and let's get the discussion going! You can also tweet at me, @jongoehringvo.

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