The stats are enormous. Twitter recently has surpassed 20 billion tweets and Facebook now has over 400 million users, 175 million of which log in everyday. It’s no wonder why all of the marketing hype centers around social media. It’s growth is fast and relentless yet experts are still trying to figure out how to be as opportunistic as possible in reaching an audience that is spending a huge amount of time social networking. The focus has shifted for businesses and advertisers to try and join in the online conversations. After all, there’s no sense in spending marketing dollars on television commercials for example, when consumers are using commercial time to engage in more social networking, unless it’s the Super Bowl.

A recent Nielson study reveals that social networking eats up twice as much time on the web as any other activity. Facebook and Twitter account for 22.7% of time spent online with the next closest activity being online gaming, 10.2%. The stats also show the degree to which social networking is taking the place of other forms of online communication. Both email and instant messaging have seen a significant drop as an online activity. Here’s the full stats from the study.

So what does it take to convince company to start marketing using social media? If you’ve been thinking about getting your feet wet for a while, now is the time to put your toes in the water! You don’t have to completely dive in but with growth like this, you owe it to your marketing strategy. Businesses shy away from social media largely because there’s so much out there and the results are hard to quantity. So start with the basics:

1. Create a Facebook profile: Try to connect with ‘friends’ that are relevant to your business. Most likely whether you’re B2B or B2C, your customers are already on Facebook. It’s relatively user friendly and not cumbersome to manage.

2. Open a Twitter account: Tweeting is fun and easy- it doesn’t take a lot of time out of your day. Again, you might find that your customers have already joined the Twitter universe.

3. Start a company blog: Blogging can be a great benefit to a business by increasing customer and visitor loyalty and driving more traffic to your company’s website. Decide on a focus for your blog, and write awesome content that will keep people coming back.

There are so many great resources online that will help you begin your social media endeavor and down the line, sharpen your social networking skills. Check out Mashable and Social Media Examiner.

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