So many of our clients continue to struggle to incorporate social media into their employee communication programs. The biggest challenge: overcoming the perception among leaders that social media is a frivolous, useless, even dangerous waste of time.

Here’s the irony: Social media outside the workplace is increasingly becoming a critical part of our lives. Sure, it’s about staying in touch with friends and seeking recommendations. But social media has also become integral to so many ways we receive information, get help and connect to people we care about.

Consider this: One in five young women has broken up with someone via social media. According to a study by AVG Technologies (as reported in Media Post), 19% of women ages 18 to 25 said they have ended a relationship by posting on Facebook. And 38% of women in the same age-range said they have broken up via text message. And social media is as integral to finding a man as it is to getting rid of him: 35% of women said they use social media to check out their dates before meeting them in person.

I know what your chief legal counsel is thinking: “Right, but that proves that social media is just for people who are very young and foolish.”

Excuse me, sir, do you have any moms working at your company? Mothers of young children are more likely than the general public to use social media, according a survey of 1,480 online adults conducted by BabyCenter.com and comScore.

In fact, 91% of moms regularly use social media, up 20% from 2010. Social media is a key way to stay connected for busy young moms: 22% said that friends or family members who don’t participate in social media aren’t as big a part of their lives as those who do. What’s more, 45% of moms surveyed said they are using email less and communicating more via social media.

So, let’s see, we’ve got Millennials, we’ve got moms . . . but many leaders (who happen to be Baby Boomers) continue to express skepticism that social media usage has taken hold among those over, say, 45.

Wrong again. While it’s true that older generations have been slower to adopt social media than their younger colleagues, more than half of those 50 to 64 are active on social media, and about a third of those over 65 are also participating, according to a Pew Internet Research 2012 study.

Social media "has long since ceased to be the preserve of college students and teenagers," says USA TouchPointsIn fact, every generational cohort from 18-24 to 55-64 is involved in reading or viewing content posted by others.

It’s true that younger age groups are more likely to Post and Share content than their older social media participants. But those in older demographic groups are more likely to Like or Comment.

The bottom line? Social media is real, it's present in people's lives and it's not going to go away any time soon. It's time for organizations to overcome the fears of a few and adopt a communication channel that's being embraced by many.

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