A report from eMarketer found that more than one-fifth of the world's population will be active on social networks by the end of 2012.

A report from eMarketer found that one in five people around the world will be active on social networks in 2012. At the end of 2011, 17.3 percent of global consumers regularly accessed Facebook, Twitter or some other platform , and that figure will reach 20.4 percent by the end of the year.

For marketers, this clearly makes social media marketing a competitive necessity moving forward. Consumers are also increasing the amount of time they spend on these networks, eMarketer found. As a result, the opportunities to reach prospects grow every day, whether they’re on the networks for personal or professional use.

Social media marketing campaigns will help companies expand their reaches even further in the years ahead. EMarketer expects more than 25 percent of the world’s population to be active on social networks by the end of 2014.

Marketers targeting Americans have the most to gain with social media marketing. EMarketer predicts American social media use will surpass 141 million users by the end of 2012.

As social audiences grow, social networks are looking into additions they can make to help businesses improve brand visibility and conversions. Brafton recently reported that Twitter is rumored to be considering the addition of a social commerce platform, which would help businesses convert prospects directly from Twitter. 

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.