Though the term "social media" became popular just a handful of years ago, social business has been around since the late 70's. Back then, we called it cutting-edge technology. Online bulletin boards where people could make announcements and share information. Jump ahead 20 years to the late 90's and the first social network is formed as a result of GeoCities. (We all remember that right?) Friends Reunited helps people locate long lost school friends (sounds like another social networking site I know). We also see at that time the first huge acquisition in which Yahoo buys GeoCities for $3.57 billion, just as Google is learning how to walk.
Right around that same time, AOL Instant Messenger shows up on the scene – boy, that changed my life! I was making friends with people all over the country... instant pen-pals, some of which I still keep in touch with today (though now on Facebook). That was when "SocialPMChick" emerged... long before Twitter. MySpace and Facebook launch within a few short years of each other, and throw in there LinkedIn, YouTube, Digg and so on. MySpace reigns supreme for a short while, with Facebook declining offers to sell through the next several years from big names like Viacom and, yes, even Google. (I would still argue there is a play for musicians on MySpace - pun intended.)
By this time we are Tweeting about the fact that we cannot decide between MySpace and Facebook, and the latest offers to buy. In 2009, the word "unfriend" is actually the word of the year, according to the New Oxford American Dictionary. (Really?)
Throw in there an iPhone, an iPad (more life-altering technology), blogging, bookmarking, online video, photo sharing and on and on. As I keep looking at this infographic and the history of social media I realize that Google and Facebook perhaps really are trying to take over the world. What I'm wondering now is which one will buy Pinterest? It's only a matter of time (and, incidentally, I found this infographic on Pinterest).
I guess the bottom line here is, social media itself is a multi-billion dollar industry, and clearly there is a lot of money changing hands at the top. But, we should not lose sight of the fact that social media is also a means to generate business. While all the buying and selling is going on between the major players, all the businesses that continue to use these tools to promote their wares are making money as well. With all the new channels, tools and technologies emerging year over year, it's hard to keep up! Many businesses are still fighting with a lack of strategy and pushing content out through social networks with no real way to measure, and no effort to really engage with consumers and prospects.
In social media marketing, there is something for everyone, whether B2B or B2C. Not sure where to start? Hire a partner who will assess your current state of social marketing effectiveness, and align that with your offline strategy to drive better results. Understanding which channels you should leverage in your social media efforts, and, perhaps, which you should steer clear of, will help reduce inefficiencies in your social strategy. You'll also gain a better understanding of what you should be measuring as it relates to your revenue model. There is so much social data out there, and, as my friend Barb likes to say... it's like trying to boil the ocean. Having a clear strategy of what channels to use, and what you will measure (and why) will give you a strategy you can digest, understand and even implement.
Not all the channels on this infographic are for everyone, but knowing which ones are for you and how to use them effectively is key.
Take a closer look before you invest, and perhaps waste, time in creating a presence on a social media channel that will yield little to no result.