There is no way to escape social media in today's world. To claim that it is just the play thing of bored adolescents and therefore a pointless endeavour for any company to partake in is frankly narrow minded and will almost certainly leave you far behind in the marketplace. The very fact that some of the most successful and influential businesses in this modern era are those whose main business is social media or who are now switching their focus to this area speaks for itself. I am of course speaking predominantly about Facebook and Twitter and Google, who have just launched Google+ to the wider public after a closed trial period. For any companies who do not believe in the power of social media then Google is the place to look.
When YouTube first came about people were sceptical, then it took off, suddenly this was big business. Members of the general public had a way to broadcast themselves for free. Google jumped in straight away and bought YouTube, the site is now a worldwide phenomenon. Like the Google search engine it is the ¬go to place for videos. Then Facebook grew, this small idea from an American student quickly took over the world. If you weren't on Facebook you were left in the social wilderness, unable to find out what your friends were doing; the events they were attending and the social connections they were making. The reason for Facebook's success has been widely debated, as a 21 year old British male, who went through university, I don't know the reason why either. All I know is that if I did not have Facebook my student life would have been a very different experience, for the worse.
The next big hit to come along was Twitter. The importance of Twitter within the business world cannot be ignored. Whereas Facebook primarily concerns itself with friendships and allows people to reveal as much about themselves as they want, Twitter gives you 140 characters with which you can express your current thoughts to followers. This then allows businesses and those who report on these businesses to forgo the necessities of Facebook and lets them post what is important. New developments within companies and breaking exposés can appear from Twitter within an instant from their original sources. Breaking news, world events all appear on Twitter as soon as they have occurred. To ignore the insight Twitter can give could be fatal to companies. The importance of Google+ then comes to this, Google have been meticulously watching all these developments and implementing all that they deem important into their social network. Google+ could be the most important development in social media there has ever been.
Whilst this brief sprint through the history of social media is unlikely to be anything you have not heard before, it should though still be enough to convince anyone that investment in social media must be at the forefront of any business plan. Perhaps you are thinking that my personal opinions cannot be taken seriously within a business. If that is the case then I point you to Tim O'Reilly, the godfather of internet development. In 2004 he brought to our attention Web 2.0 in which the very medium that you are reading this through is described as the new era. In 2009 O'Reilly gave an update of this thinking; Web Squared points to all that has come about due to social media and how it has become the epicentre for the development of a new information layer. I realise that investment has to be based on solid facts and figures so let me show you the figures which, of course, prove why there has never been a sounder investment. “Facebook doubled its revenue to $1.6 billion and its net income to $500 million in the first half of the year, according to the Reuters report. That translates to Facebook having an impressive 30% profit margin (the ratio of a company's profit after taxes).
For the sake of perspective, technology giants like Microsoft and Google have over 33 percent profit margins” see Social Beat. An article in Forbes magazine gives a rough estimate of just how much Google put in to developing Google+. The article concludes with a theory of Phil's Law which highlights an apparent irreversible collapse, like that of MySpace. This may be true but the actual truth is whist the company is going strong you should be a part of it. Like with any investment, the key is knowing when to get out. Google has clearly invested millions in Google+ and the very fact they have means that right now they believe this is the best way to expand their business. And quite frankly who are we to argue with the business strategies of Google.
The title of this article is posed as a question, in truth there is no question. Investment in social media is a must for everyone