Social Media was here all along, only that it needed a widespread unified platform combining masses under one roof to gain such a momentum. It's the same with blogs. They are nothing but simple websites, that only needed a simple platform everyone could use without any technical knowledge. It just takes a platform that makes things SIMPLE and the concept becomes recognized across the globe.
It sickens me how media and companies display their FB fan or group pages, giving even more publicity to FB, minding not that they are sending their ad money there. They are basically forced to tell you about their FB page.
Can you imagine in year 1998 seeing a TV channel proudly display their Geocities page? LOL
Ok, it's a bit different, but in sense of advertising a web platform it's the SAME thing. It's just amazing.
No one will say "use google to find more news about us" yet they will push FB in your face, telling you to become a fan there and be fed with whatever they have to throw at you.
No website has ever received this much advertising in the media and not taking that into account with your marketing efforts is just plain silly.
Although a different type of game, it's just a parallel world anyone with a bit of creativity can conquer. And if not that they can hire people that are good at this. I think I heard a title "social media manager" somewhere.
Just as SEOs can hire copywriters and programmers and designers, so they can hire people to manage their SM pages.