The Digital Gold Rush: How Social Media Fuels the Economy

Opinion: Businesses own and create their digital content

This phase of the digital gold rush is still maturing

It is no secret that social media has, and continues, to redefine the global landscape. Social media has often been looked at as a platform for communication and engagement between users, but it is drastically evolving beyond that. As today’s consumer spends up to nine hours per day  online, social media has proven to be the most effective way for businesses to reach new audiences on a global scale.

Social media is also helping to fuel the global economy by creating new jobs, democratizing information and pushing brands far beyond their borders. Before social media, brands had to pay top dollar for traditional online advertising that may not have reached their target markets. Now, businesses own and create their digital media content, breaking down the barriers to reach new audiences.

Although this social boom is fairly recent, it shows no sign of diminishing. In fact, we are at the height of what I like to call the digital gold rush—one created around the world as a magnitude of brands and influencers take to social media to target and engage consumers more effectively.

The benefits that brands, users and the global economy can harness from social media are unmeasurable. From the creation of job functions to the availability of data and information, here are several positive outcomes of this digital gold rush and how it is fueling our economy.

Social media is creating a wealth of new jobs

Brands have seen major shifts on the demand side with increased transparency, customer engagement and overall change in customer behaviors. The “always-on” mentality of social media has called for the creation of jobs that never existed before in order to handle the impact social has on the business.

Think “social media manager”—this role did not exist 15 years ago, yet almost every big brand has one today (and if they do not, they should). Businesses are so invested in social media that it has created an industry in and of itself. Businesses and tools that function strictly for social media and social media marketing are becoming more valued and readily available.

Social media influencers have also risen to popularity as a completely new form of entertainers and trusted sources of product information. Users look to social media influencers as the new “word of mouth,” often basing purchasing decisions on their opinions. The role of social influencer only became a viable job in the past five to 10 years, but today, they are a vital part of digital brand strategy. Big brands are planning to spend between $25,000 and $50,000 this year on influencer marketing alone, and an estimated $117.4 billion in total online media spend.

Since its boom, social media has driven significant global economic growth by unlocking new opportunities and connecting people, brands and businesses more efficiently.

Social media levels the professional playing field through democratization of information

Prior to social media adoption, it was difficult for brands to consistently get their information out to a targeted audience. Social media has created a form of communication housed at our fingertips, where information, ideas and other content can be shared instantly, across the globe. This wide availability of information and data represents tremendous opportunities, especially in a professional capacity.

Today, social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Glassdoor are one-stop shops for job seekers to find information that was previously unavailable. For example, both platforms help users know their worth by using salary comparison tools – ones that did not exist before social media. Current employees are encouraged to share salaries, benefits, positive or negative experiences, etc., online, which then become available to the masses.

The power of social media’s support and proliferation of user-generated content has helped create more transparency in the job market. Professionals can share their own experiences with others, as well as their thoughts on day-to-day functions or other information that may be of interest to a hopeful job seeker. This transparency has led to widespread improvements in the job market, such as fairer pay and more efficient hiring, which, in turn, leads to the betterment of employees.

Social media enables brands to scale globally

While the internet has made it possible to connect with people around the globe, social media has created a reason for people to want to connect. Its presence has gone beyond the basics and has empowered brands to expand borders and reach a global audience with a single post.

Hootsuite and We Are Social reported that there are 3.028 billion social media users worldwide—3 billion people brands can engage with and ultimately sell to, as many users look to social media for product recommendations, research and inspiration.

Brands can also cross-promote content to reach users at multiple touchpoints, which becomes even more important as the role of social commerce continues to gain popularity. With social commerce, brands are selling directly through social networks. This streamlines the process for users and facilitates instant online buying and selling, ultimately helping brands’ bottom line.

Social media plays a large role in the lives of consumers across the globe. While not everyone has fully adopted the digital movement, brands and users are seeing immediate positive outcomes. This phase of the digital gold rush is still maturing, but it highlights how social media is a critical tool for brand promotion and driving economic development.

From creating new jobs to leveling the playing field for small and midsized businesses, social media is growing stronger and will continue to fuel our global economy for years to come.

Felix LaHaye is co-founder at influencer marketing platform Open Influence.