While I normally don’t like using nouns as verbs (perhaps I am linguistically conservative?), I quite like the word “mainstreaming”. It implies that social media is in a state of transition where widespread acceptance and uptake is occurring with the general public. 

Paul Chaney suggests that the rising popularity of social media, while strong, will still take some time to become fully integrated into marketing practices. Interestingly, the social technographics profiling from Forrester shows that consumer adoption levels are high, especially in the “spectator” category – but this reinforces the sense that innovation is being driven not by business but by consumers in their quest for creative interactivity and engagement.

In Australia, Forrester’s Steven Noble’s recent analysis indicates that only 24% of Australians DON’T use social media in some way.

Forrester-Oz

Peter Kim has a great post over at MarketingProfs providing some excellent insight into what these figures mean for bloggers and/or social media consultants:   

On the upside, it’s more likely now than before that:

  • You, your customers, your prospects, and your competitors are reading and writing blogs
  • Better tools to interact with the medium exist for reading, filtering, authoring, and tracking
  • You can say the word "blog" in conversation without feeling silly

On the downside, it’s more likely now than before that:

  • Spam related to your business interests lives in "splogs"      
  • Traditional marketing approaches will find new ways to make consumers hate the medium
  • Your "regular" friends know what you mean but still think blogging is for geeks

For marketers still finalising their budgets for 2009, I would recommend setting aside a small experimental budget for social media. Hive off 5% or 10% of your MEDIA budget and contact EXPERIENCED agencies and consultants (email me if you need recommendations).

With pressure to perform in tough economic times, it’s time all marketers stop ignoring the spaces in which consumers are ALREADY playing. In this Age of Conversation, it’s time for brands to stop shouting and start participating. Welcome to the mainstream.