Businesses that don’t use social media for marketing or customer service reasons now will miss out on business and, worse, actually lose business. Social business and social media are no longer an option. It’s not hype, it’s a fact and here are some good reasons why the time to use social media is now.

Forrester just released some data on the growth of the online population. The numbers are impressive. Among, others due to the rapid adoption of mobile devices and the mobile Web, Internet usage will boost. Just consider these facts in case you doubt whether your business and employees should use social media and you should embrace social business (remember, go in with a plan!).

Top 20 countries based on forecasted use of Internet - source Forrester
Top 20 countries based on forecasted use of Internet – source Forrester

By 2017, the number of worldwide Internet users will reach 3.5 billion, half of global population (Tweet this stat), Forrester says. The rapid growth in emerging markets is a contributing factor. However, mobile is the key driver. In one minute, 1,300 people start using a mobile device (Tweet this stat).

Just imagine the impact on the usage of the Web and social media. It’s another reason why the time to use social media is now as the impact of mobile on social is huge as you can read below.

Social business: the impact of mobile.

By 2014, mobile Internet will take over desktop Internet usage. And what do mobile users do? 91% of mobile Internet access is about socializing (Tweet this stat). In the US 64% of smartphone users access social networking sites. In the EU5 countries, 45% does.

Over 50% of smartphone users accessing social networks do it on a near daily basis.

Why should you use social media? Your customers do.

Social networking sites reach 82% of the online population (Tweet this stat). That’s 1.2 billion users worldwide.

22% of time spent online goes to social networking.

Use social media for sales and lead generation.

79% of online shoppers spend at least 50% of their time researching products. Social media conversations also clearly influence purchases. Approximately 40% of all Twitter users regularly search for products on Twitter. 62% of businesses acquired customers via LinkedIn (Tweet this stat), 53% through Facebook and 44% via Twitter, according to HubSpot’s State of Inbound Marketing 2012.

People seek support via social media.

17% of consumers have used social to get service responses. When social media users receive great service they tell an average of 42 people. Imagine how many they tell about poor service. As people have lost trust in businesses, providing support via the channels they use, is essential. A brand can only regain trust and be credible if it responds.

How people spend their time online – source
How people spend their time online – source
Not responding via social channels can lead up to a 15% increase in churn rate for existing customers. By 2014, customer fallout will drive down customer satisfaction into 70% of organizations if they fail to integrate communities into support. 22% of consumers have bought a brand due a friend following it (Tweet this stat). Unfortunately, businesses fail to respond and consumers notice it. 73% of consumers believe that companies are only using their social media pages as an advertising platform and many business indeed don’t use social media at all or use it in a very limited or poorly planned way.

It’s not just about B2C but also about B2B.

B2B buyers, even in markets that lag behind, increasingly use content to inform themselves., one of the reasons why content marketing is closely related to social media marketing. 31% of social B2B buyers prefer to use social media as an information delivery channel (Tweet this stat). 51% of the top 20% of B2B marketers generating leads through social media use social sharing tools, compared to the industry average of 39%. LinkedIn gets 2 new member registrations per second.

Numbers are numbers but one thing is clear: given the rapid adoption of smartphones and the predicted growth of Internet usage, the use of social media will continue to increase. People will increasingly want you to use social media as well. Look at exactly what they want you to focus on and deliver it.

PS: in the one minute it took you to read this, over 100 LinkedIn accounts were added, 1.3 million videos were viewed on YouTube, 100,000 tweets were sent and over 320 Twitter accounts were added. Check it out below.

What happens in an Internet minute – source Intel
What happens in an Internet minute – source Intel