Social media. It’s something that we all use, abuse and can’t live without, so much so that Nielsen felt the need to calculate just how many minutes Americans spent social networking between July 2011 and July 2012. Its latest study has plenty of insights for marketers – watch our video recap:

The recently released “State of the Media: The Social Media Report 2012” shows that people spend more time on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest than any other category of site – and marketers should be asking themselves if they’re allocating their resources appropriately to reach today’s hyper-social shopper.

We spend 20 percent of our time accessing social media content via our personal computers and 30 percent of our time using mobile applications to Tweet, update Facebook and pin colorful pictures to Pinterest.Nielsen data

Thirty-two percent of people aged 18 to 24 even use social media while in the bathroom.

It’s all well and good for marketers to realize social networking is essential, but simply having accounts doesn’t lead to any substantial gain. Just like in offline interactions between salespeople and prospective customers, building rapport is the only way to increase transactions. Companies shouldn’t wait for prospects to come to them, brands should publish compelling copy that pulls readers in closer and makes them want to stick around.

Brands that want to translate Americans’ constant state of being plugged into social networks into marketing success must be proactive in their content creation and distribution. Frequently publishing unique, authoritative articles gives social followers reasons to remain connected, engaged and open to marketing messages.

While Nielsen noted people already spend a significant amount of time on social media, brands might not be investing enough resources to keep their social profiles fresh. In fact, data found that 70.1 percent of branded Facebook pages are updated less than once a month. As 2013 approaches, marketers have more opportunities to engage with audiences through custom social content when they proactively manage their social accounts.

Ted Karczewski is an Executive Communications Associate at Brafton. He works to develop his own voice and apply his passions to the evolving world of SEO and content marketing, but he doesn't shy away from writing for fun. After graduating from Suffolk University, Ted used his Communications degree to test out Sports Journalism before Marketing at Brafton.