There are more than two billion Internet users in the world now, and this figure is climbing steadily year after year. In countries as diverse as China and Chad, huge numbers of people go online on a regular basis. Within only a few years, experts estimate that half the world’s population will be regular users of the web.
Needless to say, we all have different reasons for using the Internet. For many of us, it provides us with an opportunity to communicate with friends and family members; in fact it has replaced the telephone for a significant number of us. Thanks to the web, we can even speak directly, and instantly, to people on the other side of the planet.
A growing number of people choose to get much of their retail therapy online nowadays, too. They are able to order everything from their weekly groceries to the latest video games with the click of a mouse button, and all in a matter of minutes. The speed and convenience, and in some cases the lower prices, are very welcome indeed.
Keeping up with the latest news from around the world is so much easier now, thanks to the Internet. At one time, we would have had to wait until the TV or radio stations broadcast a news bulletin, of course, but now we can have up to the minute information whenever we want it, and all from the comfort of our own homes.
In the past few years, Internet usage has taken on a whole new meaning for millions, thanks to the rise of social media. On websites such as Facebook and Twitter, users can update their statuses, share photos and videos, discuss topics and arrange meetings. They can also join groups of like-minded individuals, such as fans of a particular sport or drivers of certain vehicles.
Facebook and Twitter are perhaps the best known social media sites, but there are plenty of others, too. In some countries, sites such as Vkontakte (a Russian site) are also popular, but they all serve a similar purpose. There are so many millions of people now who live part of their lives through their web-based profiles.
In the business world, as you might expect, there are those who have not been slow to benefit from this revolution. Marketing via social media pages is common now, and many highly profitable campaigns have been instigated in recent years. The potential to organisations in all industry sectors really shouldn’t be underestimated.
Various companies, including Econsultancy, offer some fascinating insights into the benefits of social media marketing. The business community, as always, consists of a mixture of proactive, dynamic entrepreneurs and comfortable ‘steady Eddies’, so there are no prizes for guessing which group is likely to make the most of the huge potential.
Written with the generous help of David Showell, a big fan of social media, and who regularly uses Twitter to give his opinions about the state of the British economy.