Social media is pretty huge. Each day Facebook users post 4.75 billion items of content. Twitter users send 400 million tweets. Instagram users like 1.2 billion photos and YouTube users watch 4 billion videos.
U.S. companies spent $5.1 billion on social media advertising in 2013. That's nothing to sniff at, and a significant chunk of the $64.5 billion U.S. advertisers spent in total.
But it doesn't seem like money is winning a great deal of influence. That's because — as a recent Gallup poll reveals — just 5 percent of Americans believe social media exerts "a great deal of influence" on their purchasing decisions, and a strong 62 percent majority of Americans are not influenced at all by social media:
So how worried should firms like Facebook and Twitter that are dependent on social media advertising for revenue be? Probably not so much. Social media advertising is a relatively new phenomenon. Firms are still learning how to use the new media to make money, and there are already success stories.
And there is hope in the shape of America's changing demographics. Millennials are more engaged with social media than their elders, with 50 percent saying that social media media has "some" or a "great deal" of influence over their purchasing decisions.
As the advertising industry gets better at using social media to sell products, and as millennials' incomes grow as they enter the work force and mature, the chances are that the market for social media advertising will grow, too.