Social Networks Reach 1.2 Billion Users Worldwide

Mike TuttleSocial Media

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Interweb temperature-taker comScore have published a white paper that outlines ten points that businesses should be aware of when crafting their marketing and customer relations plans for the coming years.

Unless your business is aimed exclusively toward an Amish community, it must have an online presence. Most people know that. What many businesses are slow to catch on to lately is the importance of social networking in that picture.

If you run a business, and you think that Twitter and Facebook are for narcissistic teens and looking up old girlfriends, pay attention. If you miss this boat, you will kick yourself for a long time while your competition sails off with business you could have had.

A few key points of note from the comScore report:

* Social networking is the most popular online activity worldwide.

Bigger than email. Bigger than shopping. Bigger than cat videos. Bigger than porn.

"Social networking sites now reach 82% of the world's online population, representing 1.2 billion users around the world."

* It's not just young people using social networking anymore - it's everyone.

"Users 55 and older represent the fastest growing segment in social networking usage"

If 82% of the world is staring at one wall, put your business name on that wall. Except, it's a little more complicated than that.

Just posting an ad will have limited effect. You have to put it in the right place. If I am not interested in your ad, or it runs counter to my values or tastes, I can click an X and your ad goes away, never to be seen again. You have to understand that user dynamic. This is "social". You learn from the customer, usually over a period of time. The data that you glean is as important or more than the sales you make right away. But, that's another conversation.

* Mobile devices are fueling the social addiction

In a three-month period, 53.8% of mobile users reported reading posts from organizations/brands/events.

Mobile use of social networks is still a fraction of the at-home use, but it is growing. Businesses are taking advantage of that growth through such initiatives as offering discounts and freebies to customers who "check in" at their place of business on Facebook. That is a de facto recommendation of your business between friends, especially on repeat visits. Every marketer knows that word-of-mouth promotion is worth gold. That's what this is.

If your business is not at least looking at how sites like Facebook and Twitter can help you promote your business by engaging in a meaningful conversation with your customers, you are at serious risk of being left behind.

The paradigm is different from the 20th-century "look at my sign" model. Newly-emerging social networks are ballooning up in a fraction of the time of their predecessors. The window of opportunity to get on board each train is narrower. If you don't get your feet wet now, you'll find yourself behind a serious learning curve when you need to be at your most nimble.

Hop online. Get yourself free Facebook and Twitter accounts and start following some businesses. Watch what they do. Don't be left behind.

Mike Tuttle
Writer. Google+ Writer for WebProNews.