The world of Social Media has been around for a while now. It started as something that college students jumped on with the creation of Friendster and MySpace several years back. Then, Facebook jumped onto the scene and created a furor that has yet to really die down. People are still joining Facebook at an amazing rate. YouTube suddenly made is possible for every person and every company to have their own television channel. Then Twitter came along and the world began talking in 140-word sentences. Now Google+ has the planet buzzing and wondering what’s next. Somewhere in that timeline Foursquare entered the picture and now everyone can find out where everyone else is at any given time on any given day.
Considering that all of that really happened since 2007-2008, that is an impressive list of accomplishments. That list also does not include the advent and usage of LinkedIn – the more business-oriented social media site. It would be remiss not to include that since so many people are using LinkedIn daily to meet and network with others in their industry and their potential customers.
Despite all of this, people still wonder if social media is something that is going to last and if it’s something they should consider for their business. Even when you extol the virtues of using Facebook and LinkedIn to a business owner or manager, you still get that cock-eyed look and knowing smile. Yeah, right, it seems to say, isn’t Facebook just a mess of games?
If you stop to think about it, however, you realize that social media has completely changed society. Just a few years ago, if someone told you find them on Facebook you probably would not have had any idea of what they were talking about. If someone had told you to read their Tweets just two years ago, you might have looked at them with a truly puzzled expression and wondered if they were collecting birds.
There is an entire generation that is now growing up with social media. To them, it will be like television is to some and computers are to others. It is second nature. Not too long ago there was a girl in Australia who got trapped in a ravine and instead of using her cell phone to call for help, she used her cell phone to update her Facebook status and that, in turn, alerted friends to call for help.
The way in which we communicate has changed and this includes the way in which businesses network. While there are staunch advocates of the face-to-face meeting, and there will always been a need for them, more and more businesses realize that their first place to look for contacts and to get the word out about their products is through social media.
There is an entire generation who will grow up with an almost innate ability and desire to express their opinions directly to companies. With the comments section of blogs and on website such as Amazon.com, most computer and social media users take for granted being able to express their dislike or approval of a product or company almost immediately. Websites like Yelp are crucial for some small businesses and can actually make or break a local restaurant or store.
LinkedIn has changed the way businesses network and reach out to people within their industry. Yes, there are still trade shows and conventions, but the days where you only met someone on a golf course or over a table at trade show are gone. Now, you can meeting with anyone, anywhere and at any time. With software such as Skype, you can even see each other eye-to-eye no matter how much distance separates you.
One of the ways LinkedIn had radically changed business is in the world of recruiting. The unemployed no longer just visit websites where they submit their resume. Instead, those looking for work search for employees and managers at the company that they are interested in and send them a message and network with them directly. More and more, recruiters are checking out LinkedIn first and contacting candidates second. There are online resume forms that allow a person to, instead of submitting an electronic version of their resume, to submit their LinkedIn profile.
There seems to be no limit. There have been growing pains and some of the details are still being worked out. However, it seems that social media is still going strong, still growing and still expanding. As developers continue to find ways to make social media more useful and dynamic for users, businesses will find ways to turn those tools to their favor.
Thus, the status of social media remains healthy. Companies who have not jumped on board the social media train are definitely missing out on potential opportunities. But the great thing about social media is that companies who are just now venturing out can catch up quickly. And now, there are companies out there that can help guide them.