Global social media use is still growing, and the marketing possibilites in the channel are trending the same way.

According to research from eMarketer, the global social media user base will approach 2 billion by 2014, based on its current numbers and growth rate. More than 1.2 billion people used social networks at the end of 2011, and that figure will likely grow to about 1.4 billion – more than 19 percent – by the end of 2012.

The growth rate is trending downward, meaning social networks will continue to grow, but at a slower rate over the next three years.

As expected, China has the most social media users, as a nation. However, the United States currently counts 147.8 million as active participants in some social networks, eMarketer reported.

Globally, social media numbers from Europe, other North American countries and Asia will continue their ascent in the next three years. Meanwhile, Africa and the Middle East will see their user base pick up as well, despite laggard starts.

For businesses, the global growth of social demonstrates its value. Social media marketing can help companies reach users from around the world as simply as any other channel.

Moreover, there are consistently new entrants into social or existing platforms working to improve their capability. Brafton recently reported that LinkedIn gave its social campaign a boost with the announcement of the Follow button, which will allow users to keep track of friends and their favorite companies on the web.

Joe Meloni is Brafton's former Executive News and Content Writer. He studied journalism at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and has written for a number of print and web-based publications.