We live in a world in which more people reportedly own mobile phones than own toothbrushes and many newborns make their Facebook debut within an hour of birth. According to the Pew Research Internet Project, 73% of online adults use social networking sites. Among 18- to 29-year-olds, that number rises to 90%.

Google “social media statistics” and you’ll find a zillion other interesting factoids about social media use. For a business, the takeaway is simple: your customers are using social media and so should you.

But using Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and other social sites to effectively promote a business is anything but simple. It takes time, planning and persistence. Rinse and repeat.

Why is it worth all the effort? Because social media shapes how people think of your business and how they spend their money. It also influences how they hear – or don’t hear – about your company and what it has to offer.

A business’ use of social media may also affect its rankings in online search results. This means it is important to incorporate social media links in your website and make it easy for visitors to “like” and share your content. That content should be really good by the way. The best digital marketers use social media to share interesting, relevant content rather than to sell, sell, sell. Your fans and followers aren’t interested in a never-ending sales pitch.