A recent study by the Pew Research Center published in New York Times says that for the first time ever, half of all adults in the US said they used a social networking site.

This is a pretty amazing statistic, and one that should make the naysayers take a second look. It happened rather quickly too. “Six years ago, when Pew first conducted a similar survey, only five percent of all adults said they used social sites, like FacebookLinkedIn orMySpace. It is a sign of how deeply and widely social networking companies have penetrated the lives of ordinary people and, in turn, transformed the ways in which people communicate, authorities govern and companies sell things.”

Did you see that last point? Yes, it’s a growing tool for businesses, including law firms.

Not surprisingly, the younger age brackets are using it more. Eighty-three percent of people surveyed in the 18-29 age bracket said they used social networking sites, compared with 51 percent of those in the 50-64 bracket. But 51 percent is pretty strong for a population of people who weren’t on social networks in substantial numbers a few years ago. In fact, I recently heard that the fastest growing population on Facebook is women ages 55-65.

So, my takeaway from this, other than reading some pretty interesting statistics, is that social media is not going away, duh! It is, or may have already become, the new norm. It can be a great way for law firms to connect to a large variety of people that you could not reach in any other way. If you are still reluctant to start using social media as part of your marketing campaign, don’t be. You don’t have to jump into every site with both feet and tweet 20 times a day. But it is important to get started in some way and take advantage of this great medium. Maybe start with LinkedIn and really get to know this platform. Build out your individual and firm pages as thoroughly as possible, and start connecting to the people you want to know. Join some groups and comment regularly on topical posts. Then maybe expand that to a Twitter page, adding your feed to your LinkedIn page. I know everyone does not agree with this, but as long as most of your posts speak to business content and/or curation you should be fine.  You can take baby steps, and frankly that’s probably the best way to do it. Social media can be overwhelming, so take it at a pace that makes you comfortable. But do something. With over half of adults on social networks, you can no longer afford to stick your head in the sand.