Are social networks a waste of time? Do they contribute anything meaningful to the economy? Will it pay for your kid’s college? In this series of posts, I’ll present the case that social networks if leveraged correctly, will harbinger the next leg of economic growth. It will enable the society as a whole to further their standard of living and thus be able fund college among other things. Tall claim? Read on… First a word of clarification - this is not about providing employment to someone for $10 per hour to like your page. The world of marketing always had this challenge of not knowing enough about your customers. Numerous methods such as surveys, focus groups and syndicated research panels have all tried to peel the onion but never could go far enough to get to its core. The core limitation was one of push – asking the consumer to tell you what’s on their mind. Social networks for the first time convert this into a pull – consumers willingly expressing affinities about things that they like or want to follow, out of their own self-interest. This pull-based research will dramatically lower the cost of consumer understanding for businesses, which will eventually lead to lower cost of marketing. The second part of this post will expand on this claim with more details. Stay tuned.