Not hardly, according to a report just out from Nielsen. 2012 saw explosive growth in social networking.

In the relatively brief history of the personal computer, countless applications of technology have come and gone.

But if you think social media is the next one to go, as do some naysayers, think again. In 2012, it continued to grow exponentially, according to The Social Media Report 2012, assembled by Nielsen, the media ratings giant, and market research firm NM Incite. And it shows no sign of slowing down. More people than ever are using social media — and they’re using it more often and for longer periods of time on a regular basis.

Those surveyed are not just reminiscing about days gone by on Facebook. Business acceptance of social media is growing. Consumers expect to find information on brands, products, services and local businesses on their social networks.

No Bad News

The Nielsen survey delivered some startling statistics, even to those who believe strongly in the future of social media. Here are some of the findings:

Social media user numbers are way up. Especially on mobile devices, overall usage of social media is up sharply. While PC access to Facebook is down 4 percent, mobile use of Facebook is up 88 percent.

Across the entire spectrum of social media networks, growth in the number of users has almost doubled since 2011, with over half of the US population active in social media. Pinterest shows the greatest growth, with an amazing increase ranging from over 1000 percent on PCs to over 4000 percent on mobile devices. Google grew 80 percent in total user numbers.

Facebook and Twitter still substantially lead the way in total number of users, but growth is high across the entire spectrum of social media outlets. With mobile social user numbers growing over 80 percent since 2011, it’s clear that thinking mobile is crucial.

Users spend more time on social media. People are spending more time on social media sites than just a year ago. Total time spent on social media sites is up just 4 percent on PCs, but time spent on mobile web social sites is up 22 percent. Mobile social media app usage is up 120 percent.

Facebook and Twitter again top the statistics by a wide margin, but time spent is up sharply for all venues. With consumers spending more time on social media sites, your message has a better chance of being seen.

Social customer care preference is growing. With 47 percent of social media users expressing their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with products and services, businesses clearly need to focus on social media as part of their customer care service and consumer monitoring. In 2012, 1/3 of social media users said that they prefer using social media over the telephone for customer service requests. Company Facebook pages, blogs and Twitter are the most-used customer care channels.

Social media advertising gains more acceptance. Roughly 30 percent of those
surveyed found social media advertising more annoying than other ads on the Internet in 2012. Still, only 26 percent of social media users actively like ads on social sites, and just 14 percent report making a purchase based on a social media ad. Notably, though, 1/4 of social media users say that they’re more likely to pay attention to ads shared by members of their own network, so
making your ads easy to share is crucial.

Social media word of mouth remains a powerful influence. In 2012, social media users actively shared information about companies, products and services with their networks and sought consumer information using social media. At least once a month, 70 percent saw something about experiences others had, and almost half shared something good or bad about a product, service or company. Almost 2 out of 3 surveyed said they learned more about a brand, product or service on social media.

The impact of individual users on a wider group of contacts can’t be overestimated. Reputation-monitoring and responsiveness are mustsin the social media world.

Steady Social Media Growth Means Greater Opportunity

It’s clear that a strong, well-planned social media presence should be an important part of your business strategy in 2013. The rapid, continuing growth of online network usage by consumers shows no signs of slowing, and those people increasingly expect to see brands, products and opportunities during their social media experience. What’s more, they’re actively sharing their opinions with a larger network than ever before.

Don’t have a social media strategy, or need to modify your existing one? Contact us. We’™ve helped numerous companies plan their online presence, and we’d like to do the same for you.

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