How would you like to be alerted in real-time of events going on across the globe instead of having to wait for your morning newspaper the next day? Or implement a novel marketing campaign that allows you to connect with your consumer base and solicit their feedback when launching a new product or service? Or rather than maintain an antiquated, dusty rolodex of business contacts that is only reviewed when sending out holiday cards, imagine the opportunity to engage with them on a frequent basis through discussion forums, network with them and their contacts to receive business leads, referrals, and the like.

Social media has provided the platform for these types of exchanges to exist. Websites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace have each branded themselves in the market to appeal to different groups of individuals, but each share the same goal; to share and distribute information with a network of people. While the popularity of social media continues to grow on a daily basis, reports indicate Facebook attracts approximately 600,000 new users each day, it is evident that social media has not only revolutionized the way we communicate, but established a new industry.

For instance, in 2006, News Corp. purchased the social-networking site, MySpace for $580 million dollars, Facebook has made its founder, Mark Zuckerberg a billionaire at the tender age of 24, LinkedIn (often referred to the social-networking site for grown ups) is riding high with a $1 Billion valuation, and Twitter attracts users anywhere from stay-at-home moms, Britney Spears, to our President-in-Chief, Barack Obama. So what’s to come? Although the social media industry itself is still young, the enormous potential it provides in the manners in which it can be used will propel its growth in the coming years. While it is challenging to predict the specific course social media will follow, one thing is for certain, it will continue to attract users from different backgrounds, countries, and ages as it fulfills the innate human need to interact with others and build a community.