A few news items from the past week or so confirm that the growth and evolution of social media is not  a linear or neat process. Take a look:
  • A global study by Nielsen found that average users spent 17% of their time on the internet visiting social networks and blogs, up from 6% a year ago. The study also found that year-over-year online advertising spending on the top social network and blogging sites increased 119 percent since August 2008.
  • This week the coach of Texas Tech football team Mike Leach banned the use of Twitter by his players – at any time – calling  Twitter and Facebook “stupid distractions” for narcissists. He added the Facebook pages of his players would now be closely monitored. The reason for the  ban appears to be recent Twitter posts by two players – including one that suggested coach Leach was late for a meeting.
  • The U.S. Government launched a new internal site making a range of social media tools and applications available for download and use. The online storefront will allow government agencies to browse and purchase cloud-based IT services – including Slideshare, Flickr,  Facebook and FriendFeed.
  • The venerable BBC in the UK has announced it is relaunching its websites with a strong focus on social media applications, notably adding capability for real-time comment on current news and embedding videos.
  • Google announced a new application – the Sidewiki – that allows users to add comments along websites, with one of Google’s mysterious algorithms ranking the comments by relevance and quality.

I draw a few conclusions from these updates:

  • Innovation continues to fuel a steady wave of new social media applications and ideas…and keeping track – let alone figuring out which ones will survive – is a daunting task;
  • While some are on the frontier and fully embracing social media, others continue to fight a rear-guard action that seems geared to protecting a “command and control” communication model;
  • The audience for the Web and social media tools alike continues to grow at a rapid clip;
  • There is still no magic formula for making money with/on social media platforms, but there are still plenty of investors that see huge financial potential in the technology.