Social media sites' success is getting scarier. Here's a sampling of what happened this week:
- Twitter served its 20 billionth tweet, 10 billion of which it served over the past six months, Techtree.com reports. (Wowsa.)
- In what looks like a move against Facebook, TechCrunch says Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) will acquire social gaming specialist Slide for $182 million.
- A new app lets iPhone 4 users automatically check in to their favorite places on Foursquare.
In short, social media sites and services are gaining momentum. In June, Nielsen Internet Research found that online users spent 23% of their time on social networking sites.
The greater number of smart devices is surely helping to lift social media usage. Google says it's activating 200,000 new Android handsets daily, and Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) sold 3 million iPhone 4 handsets during the product's first three weeks on the market. The thumb-and-forefinger crowd Tweets and Facebooks more than its peers.
Investors need to take these geeks seriously; by adopting social media, the Facebook generation is disrupting big businesses. Take newspapers: Facebook was number three on Hitwise's March list of the most popular news sources. In the same survey, Hitwise learned that The Huffington Post was the most popular destination for those who got their news from Twitter. In the long run, that's bad news for New York Times (NYSE: NYT ) and Gannett (NYSE: GCI ) , I'd say.
But media companies aren't the only ones at risk. Social media that blend in location-based services (think Foursquare and Gowalla) threaten less-social services such as OpenTable (Nasdaq: OPEN ) . Why? The less social sites shut out friends, an important source of intelligence on the Social Web.
Is social media the Next Big Thing? I'm not sure it matters. Each day brings more evidence of the utility of social media. Utility draws money, and money creates innovation, which in turn attracts customers. I'm guessing we'll see a lot more of them. Soon.
But that's also just my take. Now it's your turn to weigh in. Will social media make investors rich? Let the debate begin below.