At the end of December, marketers often make predictions for the new year, and specific data suggests social media marketing will play an increasingly important role in ecommerce moving forward. As Contentlead reported, online advertising revenue in the United States reached $9.26 billion in the third quarter of 2012. This uptick marked the largest online promotional spending on record, and an 18 percent year-over-year increase from Q3 2011. But with brands spending more on internet marketing, professionals must learn where to funnel the bulk of their resources.

Contentlead also reported that 60 percent of Americans are more likely to share branded content that integrates social media features. Emails that include social buttons encourage recipients to pass content along to their friends and family. Nearly two-third of consumers made purchases based on these social media content interactions.

Internet users 2013To put social media’s growth and influence into greater perspective, eMarketer published its “US Digital Media Usage: A Snapshot of 2013” report, and it highlights some unique trends. According to the study, the internet user population in America will reach 245.2 million people in 2013 – up 2.6 percent from 2012. As for Facebook, 146.7 million people will engage with the platform at least monthly in 2013. Twitter user-ship will grow 14.2 percent in 2013 to reach 36.3 million monthly members.

The study indicates that with social media growing at significant rates, and with online ad spending at an all-time high, brands must allocate a percentage of their resources to social media content creation in order to keep prospective and current customers engaged with their business models. Regular studies show that social media can drive sales, and eMarketer’s report highlights the fact that people feel more comfortable shopping online today than ever before.

Online shoppers 2013The study notes that online shoppers will reach 189.6 million in 2013, an increase of 2.9 percent from 2012. However, online buyers – people who actually convert – will increase by 4.2 percent year-over-year and make up 156.1 million consumers. With Americans more likely to buy online in 2013, and with social media a major influence on purchase behavior, brands must dedicate time to create content for lead generation, especially for social media channels.