Practically speaking social media has seen real growth and awareness in the last decade or so.
The role social media has played in business world is multi-faceted.
1. As a passive information source- in the beginning social media served for nothing more than a platform where people discussed general things, personal matters and preferences- likes and dislikes. There was really not much significance attached to either the volume of these discussions or the quality of them. Probably then the numbers were not right.
2. Data collection from social media- Very soon it was known that people do indeed discuss not only volumes but also trends on social media. It soon became a source of data. Several ways to reach out to people were invented and the data became and important source of customer preferences and needs.
3. Advertisement- this in my opinion has been the most important contribution that social media had made to business world. In fact it continues to grow. Businesses- small or large, have realized the power of reach social media particularly the big platforms like Facebook and Twitter have over general population. In fact with some wise slicing and dicing you can even reach the exact target customer segment you want to. The success by some businesses on social media platforms has been so good that other have imitated this method of reaching out to clients.
And above all it’s free. So far.
There have been social media channels that have already started talking about charging a fee for the advertisements and assistance to marketing that used to be free so far. There will be takers for paid advertising too. After all with 20% of the world being on Facebook, you cannot ignore the power of advertising on social media anymore.
With the reach and penetration social media has in populations across the world, the way it has made the world a smaller place and the amount of data you have at your disposal if collected wisely, the contribution of social media on the expanding business world has been significant.
The industries benefitting maximally from social media are consumer goods, travel and tourism, music and entertainment and education. There are several platforms besides the general ones like Facebook and twitter, which are dedicated to connecting people with these common interests.
There are two reasons that I see as success of these businesses in using social media more effectively. Firstly, these are businesses directed towards the whole population as target customers. Everyone uses consumer goods, everyone travels and everyone looks around for good entertainment. It’s the lack of a niche customer that allows these businesses to take advantage of social media. Also the power of social media began as a data source.