I have a love/hate relationship with social media. Social media destroyed my business, but now I find it indispensible. Let me explain...
Starting from scratch as a newly minted college graduate with a business degree, lots of nerve and very little money, I launched my venture with a $15 investment in marketing fliers and a tank of gasoline.
Being interested in the real estate business, I saw a need to supplement the regional listing service with an inexpensive weekly hard-copy supplement for the local community of real estate agents. I designed and distributed a flier to the real estate offices around my home that explained what I was offering.
Unbelievably, the first week in business I had made my initial investment back plus a small profit. Soon, the business started making more money than my meager salary at the insurance company, prompting me to take it full time. I outsourced most of the labor, and my little company grew to be the go-to source of updates and marketing of listed residential properties in my region.
However, I had an unstoppable competitor always nipping at my heels. This competitor was the Internet at first, but then it became the final nail in my little company's coffin -- in the form of social media.
At first, I didn't pay much attention to the growing influence of the Internet. I knew that it had a huge effect on certain markets around the country, such as California. However, because my clients were generally old-school agents who did things the same way they had done for years, I felt safe.
After years of an expanding or steady business, however, I started to notice a decline as real estate agents began carrying smartphones and laptops and tapping into networks that connected them with the latest information in real time. The need for weekly hard-copy updates soon faded into oblivion as even my die-hard, old-fashioned, newspaper reading, landline-only clients started switching to social media sources for their updates.
As fast as my business started, it ended. Although social media destroyed my first business, I couldn't imagine living without it now.
If You Can't Beat Them, Join Them Social media sites like LinkedIn Corp (NYSE:LNKD), Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and Twitter have become my go-to source for networking, friendships and even up-to-the-second stock market news. These sites have not only changed the world, but they have changed my world for the better.
Social media's impact has been truly revolutionary. According to eMarketer.com, more than 1.7 billion people will use social media in some way this year.
Not only has social media changed the lives of users, it has made many investors wealthy. Even after its IPO "flop," Facebook is trading near $51 after falling to $17. LinkedIn has soared nearly 150% this year.
Now, a new social media monster is poised to enter the publicly traded domain. Recently, Twitter filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission to start the ball rolling for its initial public offering.
Launched in 2006, this social media service has revolutionized communication through its 140-character real-time bursts. It now boasts more than 200 million users. While Twitter is unlikely to be the largest Internet IPO ever, it has Wall Street buzzing in anticipation.
In comparison, Facebook raised more than $16 billion in its May 2012 IPO. Rumors and private stock exchanges have Twitter valued at roughly $10 billion. It is said that Twitter hopes to raise about $1.5 billion, which will value the company at around $15 billion to $16 billion after the IPO. Shares are expected to hit the market at around $30 with approximately 50 million sold.