The next 50 years of the Internet will be controlled by the phenomenon called social networking. It's pretty obvious that social networking and all its applications will only continue to expand and develop, shifting the way we do business. If you get on the bandwagon now, you can promote your company and survive in the upcoming age of business technology.

What would you rather do: send out tons of email to your clients, rack up large long-distance business calls, drive/fly hours to your clients, or interact with them through several social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter?

The overwhelming selection, not surprisingly, is social networking. What is stunning, however, is just how many businesses are turning to those sites. No longer just for college kids, nowadays, two thirds of all worldwide Internet users visit social networking sites more than they use email. More than 35 percent of all U.S. web users over 18 have at least one profile, compared to eight percent just four years ago. Memberships on such services are blowing up, with Facebook's press department laying claim to over 300 million users worldwide.

Most people feel that social networking already is, or will be, a great way to advertise their business. There are plenty of distributors who already have a profile on Facebook, however, only about half of them claim to know how to use social media to further their business.

While social networks have survived for almost four years, they are still in a great deal of flux. Twitter is, having grown from 500,000 users at the beginning of 2008 to a rumored 70 million currently. One should also keep in mind that another social networking site, MySpace, was “the shizz” before Facebook overtook it way back in late 2008. Yeah, things change thath quickly on the Internet.

This shouldn't mean that a tech savvy businessperson should continue to sit on the sidelines, ready for something to come forth as a generally agreed upon, permanent leader. Most observers say that businesses today are anticipated to have a presence on at least a few of the major sites.

Expecting quick or even not so quick returns from having a social networking profile is the wrong idea. Rather, social networking sites should be regarded as another branding opportunity, similar to those advertising tactics featuring a company's name and contact information on pens. Even having a profile on Facebook or Twitter is a type of branding, not just for the name, but also for the image. Appearing to be on the forefront of any technology that's being talked about is never a losing proposition. As the name entails "social networking" goes way beyond putting a company's name on a web site and seeing what happens. The best way for a business to use this service is to engage consumers, show off their products, or maybe even bragging a little bit.

With all of these aspects, it's crucial to remember that the aim of social networking sites is at the very least a bidirectional street. Before I go, don’t forget to apply traditional advertising methods that can be channeled through other avenues. You guys have a good night.