posted: 2014-08-18 by Steven Grinberg

Over the past few years, I've been obsessing over the social media industry - how to navigate it, its impacts, its causes, and so on. Based on a recent project, I decided to put together an extensive collection of information for the purpose of learning about and planning for the social media industry. Much like the industry itself, this information will continue to expand and evolve.

This analysis of the industry offers many benefits to a variety of individuals and professionals. It is well understood that social media can have an enormous impact on the growth and success of your business ventures in the short and long terms. Whether you are an independent contractor who develops websites for small companies and are considering expanding your services to offer a wider marketing package; an in-house, digital marketing professional working at a Fortune 500 company; an entrepreneur looking to build a social media solution; or anything in between, this is a great source of usable knowledge. Although I recommend reading the entire collection in sequence to get the full impact, you're welcome to jump around.

Infographic: Social Media is Important for Small Business Owners | Statista

The social media industry has many functions in our daily lives, personally and professionally. It is driven by our need to stay connected. There are many moving parts involved and it is constantly upgrading. This makes it very difficult for us to dive in without a large amount of research and preparation. Currently, more than 50% of small businesses use LinkedIn and Facebook for business networking purposes and, although social media has been around for a few years now, it is still considered to be in a growth stage. We'll take a look at why that is a bit later, but essentially, it means there exists ways for newcomers to enter the industry and make a profit. This is unlike, say, the amusement park industry or the chocolate industry, which have been operating for many decades and require significant upfront capital investments, as well as solutions to other major barriers to entry.

What are we doing with all of this social media?

To a business, social media can be more than just a branding channel. Among other things, it is an opportunity to connect with the right customers, to understand what they really want from the products and services offered, and to understand where competitors might have an advantage. There are multiple ways to achieve these goals across many platforms that are collectively utilized by billions of people, which are categorized in various ways in order to ensure businesses are able to find the right customers. The return made on social media will always depend on the investment. A company that is able to properly leverage this industry, which can become a costly endeavor, would be able to see great results.

Leveraging Social Media

We'll look at several areas within this industry that can be utilized for success. But note that this is not analogous to the early California gold rush, where you could just build some tools, work in the right niche, and strike it rich. There already exist tremendous challenges such as penetrating a saturated landscape, marketing to a broad audience, or generating revenues. Overwhelming as these challenges may seem, opportunities for success do exist.

To help you understand the industry and better prepare, we'll go over:

  • An overview of users and a comprehension of the industry as it stands today
  • Its history, which might offer some insight as to where it is going
  • User needs, services offered, and business model applications in the upcoming years
  • Key drivers, various bottlenecks, and enabling technologies, to make certain predictions
  • Utilizing this information to make key decisions in your ventures

We'll start, in the next section, with a brief overview of some of the social networking sites and what they offer.