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The Latest Trends in Social Media

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Social Media Networks FacebookFacebook’s recent disclosure that a staggering 500 million Internet users have signed up for its service is a dramatic indication of just how pervasive the adoption of social media services has become these days. From being a somewhat unique network targeted largely at college students and younger audiences, Facebook has quickly grown to become one of the most valuable properties on the Internet with a market value estimated in the tens of billions of dollars. The company is by no means alone. Other social media networks and Web properties such as Myspace, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn have also seen remarkable adoption by mainstream Internet and corporate users over the past two years or so. Much of that consumption is being driven by the real-time communications, interactivity and enormous access to new audiences that is enabled by social media. The rapidly growing adoption is driving several trends on the social media front.

Changing the Way We Use the Web

Social networks have given countless Internet users a platform for showcasing their creativity, espousing their causes, sharing their thoughts, and furthering their personal and professional agendas. They have begun rapidly transforming the manner by which people access, consume and digest news and other forms of content. For many, social networks have become their primary news source and social influencer. Social sites have become major influencers of public opinion and an increasingly reliable barometer of public sentiment.

Businesses Are On Board

The enormous reach and popularity of social media and tools are also giving businesses of all sizes new ways to engage with their existing customers and reach out to new ones. Over the past two years or so, a growing number of enterprises have begun leveraging Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other tools to launch communication campaigns, deliver targeted marketing messages and offer up customer support services. By keeping an eye on what’s happening on social networks, companies have been able to engage customers more effectively, understand their needs and spot potential support or quality issues well before they blow up into major problems. A must-have tool for any Internet marketing company, social networks provide a tremendous new opportunity to deliver highly effective campaigns. By harvesting and mining the vast amount of personal data and opinion that people share on social networks, marketing companies are increasingly able to deliver highly targeted marketing messages to their core audiences.

Going Mobile

Over the next few years, the adoption of social media networks is going to become even more pervasive. One of the biggest changes is going to be the availability and use of social services on mobile devices. Location-aware media services such as FourSquare, Gowalla and Facebook’s new Places service are already giving businesses a way to take advantage of an individual’s physical location to deliver specialized services in real-time. That’s just an inkling of what’s likely to come over the next few years.

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