Remember when joining social media networks used to be fun? I do. The good old days – six or seven years ago. Social media moves in a time warp, I think. And yes, we all have to grow up sometime. Even if we go kicking and screaming – or, like some, wanting to grow up too fast. Teenagers. Ugh.

The new American Dream for entrepreneurs is emerging as a business model that starts lean, fails fast or grows faster, and sometimes, cashes out. Big time.

It’s good news. And bad. Venture money, corporate takeovers, and IPOs change the landscape of starting up and operating innovative businesses. Once an idea catches the eye of investors and the hearts of users, well, you know the story. And hey, those entrepreneurs that have the ideas, make the investments and take the risks are entitled to do as they see best when opportunities arise.

It seems, though, that we are investing too, right? Isn’t it our subscriptions that drive revenue estimates? Isn’t is our data that makes what social apps valuable? So, where in the grand scheme do we, as subscribers, users, and communities fit? As brands, are we building foundations of a new marketing model on ‘rented land’? Think about that for a minute.

As start-ups mature, we’ve seen founders leave in deference to business-oriented leadership taking over. Now we’re seeing founders taking the reins again with companies like Google and Twitter. Then there are the startups that shun takeover bids, like Snapchat, and continue along on an impressive growth arc with a very active user community.

Social media is disrupting the business status quo. The question is, in what sustainable ways? And what can we expect for the future of marketing and business in social media?

Q1) How do social communities generally fare in the startup to public company transition?

Q2) Doesn’t becoming a publicly-traded company dramatically alter a company’s vision?

Q3) What alternatives are there to funding a social media startup? Is the type of funding important to sustaining a vision? How?

Q4) Is there societal pressure to monitor/censor social media? What should we expect as far as protections?

Q5) How are social media apps evolving? What do you think social media will look like in five years?

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