Social Media and Foreign Direct Investment


FDIIn the broadest definition, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is an investment outside the economy of the investor. It usually refers to a measure of foreign ownership of productive assets, such as factories, mines and land. Increasing foreign investment can be used as one measure of growing economic globalization.

The Disruption

Social Media has the effect of defining an economy not by an international border, but rather, by associations between people and their conversations. Investment is in the form of time and the exchange of ideas, experience, and knowledge. Ownership is expressed in the form of reputation, search placement, social ranking, hits, etc.

Social FDI

Therefore, FDI in social media refers to an investment applied outside the economy of the investor where:

  1. The outcome is derived simply from who is talking to whom.
  2. Combining different people in conversation results in alternate outcomes.

Likewise, increasing Social FDI can be used as one measure of growing economic socialization. For business, this means that Social FDI would then include investments in people who are not your customers.

For Example:

I recently wrote a post for Plane Conversations – a blog serving the private aviation industry. Thousands of private airplanes that once served the corporate market are grounded because of the financial crisis. The jist of the article was that the private aviation industry could help communities to stave off commercial aircraft expansion by empowering local entrepreneurs to compete with commercial aircraft industry by selling “lift products” provided by the private aviation industry, hence, Citizen Airlines, LLC.

The paradigm shift …

…is that a company that sells corporate jet services would engage, cooperate, and empower people who are not their customers in order to compete more effectively. Who saw that one coming? Can it happen everywhere? Can it happen in every single industry imaginable? What if everyone did it in their personal lives? Can it create entirely new industries altogether?

This is not trivial.

FDI in all forms induces a sharing of risk between the host economy and the investing economy. This provides a stronger stimulus to economic growth in host economies than other types of capital inflows. FDI is more than just capital; it is access to diverse technologies and management knowhow.

Welcome to conversational currency.

Many people who read the title of this post would conclude that the article is about the 100 million dollar Russian investment in Facebook, or how countries outside the US are using Linkedin and Twitter. Perhaps some repackaged assessment of well worn forecasts. Guess what, that is exactly what the article is about.

Innovation Economics 101

Innovation is largely the practice of connecting two useful ideas resulting in a third. Innovation leading to increased productivity is the fundamental source of increasing wealth in an economy. Innovation is the most important thing for the human survival.

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