Social media is one business that continues to grow.  Social media is projected to grow to a $16.9 billion in 2012, a 43.1% increase from last year according to a new report by Gartner.

Most of the projected revenue is expected to come from an increase in advertising.  Advertising alone is expected to contribute $8.8 billion in revenue.  Social gaming comes in a close second with an estimated $6.2 billion followed by subscription based services at $278 million in growth.  This growth is expected to continue in the years to come, with mobile playing a large roll.

Gartner did not expect social media to experience great growth in new areas, but rather for gamification and advertising to increase their revenue and continue to grow. According to Neha Gupta, a senior research analyst at Gartner, “The biggest impact of growth in social media is on the advertisers. In the short and medium terms, social media sites should deploy data analytic techniques that interrogate social networks to give marketers a more accurate picture of trends about consumers’ needs and preferences on a customized basis. In the meantime, however, they should also continue to exploit other channels of revenue like mobile advertising and social commerce.”

Businesses cannot afford to overlook the power of social media.  Social media, for better or worse can shape the performance of businesses and brands.  It can also be a driving factor to help brands open new sources of revenue.