There has been some fierce debate over the relative merits and pitfalls of social media on the pages of Marketing Week in the last few days.

While I don’t believe social media should be siloed off as the entire focus of a campaign, I think its benefits as part of a fully-integrated marketing strategy can be substantial.

This neat infographic on the demographics of the two largest social networking sites below spells my argument out for me.

Note that these are US stats, but on both Facebook and Twitter, over half of their users say they will purchase products or services from the brands they “like” or follow.

Which other marketing discipline offers such a highly engaged user base that is actively seeking brands to interact with?

Some other interesting points from the graphic:

  • Only 25% of Twitter users follow a brand compared to 40% of Facebook users. Brands need to be doing more on Twitter to offer their users an incentive for following them – while still keeping a solid Facebook strategy.
  • On both sites around a third of users are logging in on mobile devices. Brands should ensure their websites and campaigns are smartphone-optimised so if their followers do happen to visit while they are social networking they are not disappointed with the outcome.
  • If you want to get feedback from your customers, use Twitter. Those on Facebook tend to be voyeurs, with only one in ten updating their status every day, but one in two are updating daily on Twitter.
  • If you’re rich, you’re more likely to Twitch (sorry). More users on Twitter have annual incomes above $76,000 (£46,387) – but only slightly.