Lots of UK businesses have heard about the need to invest in social media marketing. It is beyond doubt that sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, YouTube and Digg are changing how people behave online.
However, as with any emerging trend, it can often be hard to separate fact from fiction, making it difficult for companies to get a handle on the exact size and demographic profile of the UK social media audience.
This is why prospective social media marketers need to pay close attention to reports from trusted sources. Research needs to be thorough and unbiased if it is to be of any use whatsoever.
In the UK, one of the most respected institutions for web research is Ofcom, the independent UK communications regulator. Its latest report, entitled UK Adult's Media Literacy, includes a detailed analysis of social media trends based on surveys of UK adults aged 16 and over.
British web usage
As you would expect, the Ofcom study confirms that UK internet usage is still very much in the ascendancy; three quarters of adults said they used the internet in 2009 (73 per cent), up from two-thirds in 2007 (63 per cent). However, things get much more interesting on the subject of what all these users are actually doing online.
According to the UK Adult