Not surprisingly, Yle's expert panel said that Finns would increasingly turn to social media in 2014, as more people switch on to the many attractions.
1. Facebook becomes the people’s medium
Social media communication was readily taken up by young people, but over time more senior age groups have become "some" (social media) users.
For many, "some" is still synonymous with the community networking site Facebook, which has indeed become the medium of choice. Even grannies from Pihtipudas in central Finland have been “liking” Facebook.
2. Social media goes mobile
Younger age groups in particular are logging into their social media services via their mobile devices. And new users took up mobile devices with the advent of location-based services on the market. The location-based services include examples such as restaurant or hotel recommendation services.
3. Instant messaging takes over
Just as older users have started migrating to Facebook, younger users and particularly tweens and teens have begun their exodus from the nearly 10-year old service. The reason for their departure – they don’t want parents and older relatives to be au courant with their online activities.
The experts say that this year, juniors will be resorting to different kinds of mobile-based instant messaging services. Mobile applications such as the group video chat service OkHello, the picture messaging service Snapchat and the instant messaging WhatsApp will become enormously popular among younger users, offering them a contemporary communication channel unfettered by older eyes and ears.
4. Messaging goes visual
The number of images trafficked in social media will continue to grow in 2014. Video services such as YouTube, Instagram and Vine will become even bigger and more widely used.
Apart from the personal arena, video is assuming a more important role in companies’ internal and external communications. Ordinary social media users are also building their own personal brands by sharing content such as images and short, humorous video clips.
5. Social media spawns its own celebrities
Social media has changed the way the younger generation define themselves. Today’s thirty-year-olds competed for popularity in high school corridors, but today’s youngsters gauge their status in social media channels.
Some may even have tens of thousands of followers on the photo sharing network Instagram, while others make the short steep rise to celebrity status by uploading homemade music videos to YouTube.
2014 will see more and more new celebrities rising to stardom by way of social media, the experts say. In this regard the role of the traditional media as the gatekeepers of glory will weaken as social media transfers this power to the man in the street.
6. Sharing becomes more important
In social media parlance, viral content refers to social media content what spreads widely and rapidly as users share it with their networks. Nowadays social media content creators are increasingly keeping their eye on the viral potential of the material they develop.
In Finland, sharing content far and wide is limited by the Finnish language, prompting many content developers to design English-language content. Individuals will also become more conscious of their role in influencing the dissemination of messages and may pick and choose what content they share.
7. Selfie and food picture trends continue
Social media has a way of spawning new fads in terms of the kinds of content people like to receive and share. Predicting the next big wave is always difficult. However Yle’s panel of experts believes that the popularity of food pictures will continue.
Needless to say the younger set will maintain their affection for so-called “selfies”, or digital self portraits, while the trend may even begin to affect more mature and less self-absorbed age groups. Nude selfies may even take root among Finnish users.
8. Customer service will migrate to social media
Social media channels have become an irreplaceable tool for customer service. In times of crisis, national airline Finnair uses social media to respond to its customers and to provide them with status updates and other instructions.
Successful customer service operations in social media require humility and a constant presence. Moreover organisations would do well to remember that material shared in social media channels will remain accessible to customers in some form. This also opens up possibilities for effective marketing based on customers sharing corporate content. Online dialogue will also change the way companies develop their products, as they’ll have the benefit of constant feedback from their customers.
9. Bigger role for Twitter in political exchanges
2014 will see the role of social media growing in political dialogue. The micro-blogging service Twitter is especially well-suited to political messaging because all tweets are public and the service makes it easy to build a personal brand.
Journalists also have a strong presence on Twitter, making it easier for them to provide public updates. Parties and candidates involved in upcoming European Parliament elections should focus on getting their messages across via Twitter, the experts counsel. However this kind of public engagement requires constant attention and a willingness to take on unpleasant feedback.
Yle interviewed a panel of five experts for their trend predictions: Juho Jokinen of the media company Dingle, Helsinki University online communications researcher Salla-Maaria Laaksonen, Jyväskylä University Organisational Communication and Public Relations Professor Vilma Luoma-aho, entrepreneur and social media expert Harto Pönkä and Jyväskylä University journalism researcher Turo Uskali.