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It takes ‘Pivot Points’ to truly know what social media are all about

12 September, 2011

It takes ‘Pivot Points’ to truly know what social media are all about, says The Futures Company, in a just-released white paper on the future of social media

LONDON, U.S. — With an eye on the six underlying dimensions that define both the structure and future of social media, The Futures Company has released a groundbreaking white paper as part of its Future Perspective series entitled Status Update: The Six Decisions Shaping the Future of Online Social Networking. As is the case for all of its white papers, Status Update is available as a free download at

The six ‘Pivot Points’ at the heart of this framework were developed after a deep internal study of the underlying structure of social media and what consumers want. These Pivot Points constitute the lines of tension that define the choices consumers make when they connect online. These lines of tension fundamentally dictate the conflicts and satisfactions consumers experience, and by shaping consumer preferences, these Pivot Points will shape the future of social networks.

The six Pivot Points lie at opposing ends of each continuum of consumer choices:

1. Big Net vs. Tight Knit – a choice of scale of connection
2. Open Hand vs. Closed Fist – a choice of intimacy and privacy of connection
3. One for All vs. One for Each – a choice of specificity of connection
4. Turn On vs. Tune Out – a choice of pervasiveness or interruption of connection
5. Plug vs. Play – a choice of the utility of connection
6. Challenge vs. Confirm – a choice of worldview of connection

In announcing this breakthrough framework for understanding social media, J.Walker Smith, Executive Chairman at The Futures Company, said: “Like every technology, the birth of social media was all about what technology could do. But like every technology, the future of social media will be all about what consumers want to do. Before our Pivot Points perspective, there was nothing to help marketers and business strategists frame the future in order to get ahead of a phenomenon that is changing every day.”

Smith continued, “Our Pivot Points provide a guide to understanding today‟s consumer landscape and how it will change, thus enabling businesses and marketers to make sense of short-term trends, to anticipate where to look to innovate, and to build better marketing and communication strategies.”

Status Update: The Six Decisions Shaping the Future of Online Social Networking is available for download at Update. It follows a series of blog posts released on the subject in August on The Futures Company blog (

This report is part of the Future Perspectives series of white papers on the local and global currents shaping the business and consumer landscape. Each Future Perspective tackles a single issue, dissecting key data, correcting prevailing wisdom where necessary and providing strategic guidance. Recent titles in the series include „The World in 2020‟ and „The Future of Global Brands‟.

For further information, please contact:
(US) Emily Parenti on +1 919 932 8626 or email  

About The Futures Company
The Futures Company is the leading global foresight and futures consultancy, formed in 2008 from the coming together of The Henley Centre, HeadlightVision and Yankelovich. Through a combination of subscription foresight services and bespoke research and consultancy, we create commercial advantage for our clients by helping them to take control of their futures. By exploring the future needs, motivations and behaviors of consumers, and the broader dynamics shaping the marketplace, we unlock the future of consumers, brands, categories and companies.

The Futures Company is a Kantar company within WPP with teams in the UK, US, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and India. 
Follow The Futures Company
Twitter @FuturesCo

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