Social media first emerged in the mainstream as a teenage fad, functioning as an online representation of real-life relationships where alliances could be made or broken with the click of a mouse. It was simple, slick, but definitely not serious.
Yet barely a decade later, those glitter-graphic littered pages have grown into an immensely prosperous industry. For instance Facebook–the most popular social networking site among young adults 18–29 is worth an estimated $11 billion.
What I believe has everyone from your distant aunt to the CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies “friending” each other is social media’s inherent characteristics: interactivity, accessibility, and flexibility. Not to mention its ability to exploit people’s narcissistic tendencies (shirtless bathroom photos anyone?)
As a result, social networking sites are not as silly as they used to be. In fact, they serve four very useful purposes.
- Socialize: Whether trying to find a long-lost friend or make a new one, the most popular reason people log-in remains keeping in touch.
- Network: More people are making and managing professional contacts, while staying on top of developments in their industries. Don’t forget more employers are using online profiles to research job candidates.
- Market: According to a study by Syncapse, “fans” of a particular company spend an additional $71.84 on its products. As a result, almost every business from Victoria’s Secret to Starbucks has one.
- Campaign: Similar to marketing, yet with a more charitable approach, social media campaigns keep target audiences informed on issues affecting them and their communities.
So despite those who continue to protest having a profile in favor of REAL connections as they say, social media remains a powerful tool. If utilized correctly, it can have outstanding results. Here’s a helpful article on how to get started.