The social media space has been making a lot of headlines lately. Google launched its social platform, Google+ to much buzz. Facebook hit 750 million users and announced live video chat. Twitter hosted a live Town Hall with the President. And that’s just in one week! There’s no doubt that the use of social media is continuing to grow, becoming an increasingly important, dynamic part of life.

In fact, research shows that the use of social networks has roughly doubled since 2008. The Pew Internet & American Life Project released a report in June that showed:   

  • 79% of American adults say they use the internet.
  • Of adults, 47% (or 59% of internet users) say they use at least one social networking site, compared with 26% of adults (or 35% of internet users) used social networking sites in 2008.
  • Of adults, the average age of social networking site users has increased from 33 in 2008 to 38.
  • More than half of adult social networking site users are over 35.

The report also showed that people use different social networking sites in different ways. On a daily basis, 52% of Facebook users engage on the site, 33% of Twitter users engage, and 6% of LinkedIn users engage on the platform.

As the use of social networking sites continues to grow and develop, eMarketer reports a study by ROI Research that showed how the use of social networking sites affects offline behavior, too. One question focused on what social network users will be likely to do after following a company or product on Facebook or Twitter: 58% of Twitter users said they would be likely to purchase, and 53% of Facebook users said the same. Further, 59% of Twitter users said they’d be likely to recommend a company or product after following it online, and 53% of Facebook users said the same. Plus, the study found that Twitter and Facebook users following a brand would be likely to talk about the company, link to an ad, or attend a promotional or sponsored event.

Taken together, these reports illustrate the idea that not only are people using social media more and more as a way to connect with friends and family, they are also engaging with businesses and brands online, and ultimately, these interactions influence purchase decisions.  

Do you use social media to connect with businesses? Is your business using social networking sites to connect with consumers? Share your thoughts in a comment!

Author: Tiffany Monhollon writes about social media, marketing, and local business success as the lead blogger for ReachCast, a service that helps local business owners develop their web presence.