man-covering-eyesHaven’t yet convinced yourself (or your boss) that social media has a place in your marketing strategy?

These stats may help you better understand the sheer volume of social media users and see that your Internet customers are likely among them.

Participation in Social Media is Staggering

From December 2008 to December 2009, there was an 82% increase in the time global consumers spent online with social networks.  That’s an average of 5.5 hours in a month that they’re NOT spending watching your TV commercials, listening to your radio ads, responding to your email promotions or reading your direct mail campaigns.

It’s not just for teens and college kids anymore – 40% of adults over 30 use social media. Facebook has about 120 million users in the U.S. With a population of about 309 million, that’s nearly 40% of the entire country.

Plus, 66% of marketers (likely including your competition) intend to devote more time and money to social media marketing in 2010. Will you?

Be Where Your Customers Are

The best way to dip a toe into social media is to figure out where your customers are and go there first. Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn are quite popular, but “Facebook has taken over as the social network of choice,” says a recent Pew Internet Report. Don’t know where your customers congregate online? Ask ’em.

Once you find them, listen for a bit and see what people say about your business and your brand. Listen for the topics they talk about and what ideas engage their interest. Then you can think about the ways your business can contribute to that conversation.

When you’ve figured out the network(s) in which you want to participate, take a moment to craft a social media policy and be prepared in advance for managing sticky situations, managing your staff and  determining how your company will participate.

Take a deep breath, jump in and join in the conversation. Then, once you learn how your target audience responds, you’ll be better equipped to add social media initiatives to your marketing mix and strategy.

Social Media Strategy Resources

Convinced or still skeptical? Drop a note in the comments below and let us know your thoughts on using social media to promote your business.