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'Tis the Season for Social Media

Social media is gaining momentum as a leading influencer of consumer behavior - and that trend is extending into the holiday season. If social media isn't part of your overall holiday marketing plan, you may want to rethink your strategy.

As the reach of social networking extends across every demographic of American society, more and more consumers are talking about brands and products with family, friends, and associates online. Facebook users now average around 15 hours on the site per week - and more importantly for e-tailers, now contribute more than 3% of all traffic to the top retail sites online.

Consumers are now delivering real-time messages about brands directly to their networks - almost 25% of social network users post links to other companies, products or services on a regular basis. A study from Penn State found that a specific brand or service is mentioned in nearly one out of every five tweets.

This trend is especially evident in the coveted high-income demographic - a recent study found that nearly one in five wealthy consumers in social networks also belong to a social shopping site like Ideeli and Rue LaLa.

The holiday season is a critical time for making sure that your brand is seen and your message is heard. Don't miss the opportunity to speak directly with consumers during the time they're most likely to spend all year - make sure you leverage the power of social media to generate awareness of your brand and drive sales, both during the holidays and into 2010.

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