That’s the percentage of adult Internet users now connected to others via social networking sites, according to a study by Pew Research Center released late last month. And surprisingly, it’s not those just past the threshold into adulthood who are jumping in the online social world the most, but rather the Boomers, whose usage on a typical day jumped a whopping 60% in the last year.
What does this tell us? For one, social networks are now a major means of communication in today’s business and social economies. And secondly, the expansion of broadband technology has made the social web faster, increasingly interconnected, and more valuable to its users. Gone are the days when online interaction seemed like a trek into the wild and unruly frontier. The rise of the social web also points to our increasing reliance on digital communication in the economy and thus to job creation and economic growth and opportunity.
Services like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn not only make it easy for us to stay connected to people important to us, they’re also playing an important role in business. More and more companies are leveraging the power of social interaction to sell products and services; for example, the emergence of local and family owned food trucks can be attributed to their use of Twitter for real time menu, location, and deal updates.
In addition to changing the conversation between businesses and consumers, the social web, networking through networks, has also enhanced the job seeker’s ability to find (and be found by) potential employers, careers, and startup business opportunities.
That’s what makes the rise of the social web so exciting to watch. When social sites first started hitting the mainstream, social networking may have seemed like little more than a fad. But from the Pony Express to email, we have always looked for new — and more immediate — ways to communicate, and social networking has taken its place as the latest leap forward.
Today, we check in to locations to find nearby deals. We check in with friends for reviews of products and services. We check in with companies to find a job. The rise of social networking has been enhanced by the rise of mobile broadband, and together they are changing our ways of communicating and the face of our economy.
All business, whether it’s conducted between co-workers or in the global marketplace, depends on interaction. You want to put America back to work? Give every American the ability to interact. Put the power of broadband — wired or wireless — in their hands.
They’ll do more than announce the score of the ball game.