IBM released a new social CRM report and, in it, some startling figures were revealed: there are more than 500 million active users on Facebook, 70 percent of which are outside the U.S.; between 2006-2010, there were more than 10 billion tweets on Twitter; and by July 2011, that number reached 20 billion tweets. 

IBM conducted two surveys: The first was completed by 1,056 consumers in the U.S., Canada, UK, France, Germany, India, China, Australia and Brazil. The demographics covered included baby boomers, Generation Y and Generation X. The second survey was filled out by 351 business executives in all the same countries except Canada.

What the first survey found was that roughly 80 percent of the consumers surveyed have at least one account on a social network account and about half have accounts on media-sharing sites, which let them upload pictures, videos and other digital media; only five percent of consumers, however, are regularly responding to comments and posting original content.

Generation Y, also known as the Millennial Generation, accounts for a large majority of social network use, where 89 percent of those surveyed were regularly using social media. Generation X users were close with 79 percent total usage; Baby Boomers are growing the fastest of all, with 72 percent users.

Most people would expect data like this, and IBM helps reassure people's assumptions, which is especially important for business professionals, who have not found a way to consistently reach potential customers.

The first survey concludes by saying, offering tangible value to consumers may be the strongest incentive to attract the 75 percent of Casual Participants who need a good reason to interact.

The second survey reiterated the same point: This gold-rush mentality to stake a virtual claim in the blogosphere has resulted in the launch of social media programs that now need to be evaluated for their overall value to the customer, the report says. Understanding why customers want to engage with a company via social media is the first step toward building the value proposition for a Social CRM strategy.

While businesses may not agree on ways to approach consumers through social media, they do agree that social media is an unavoidable tool. A large majority of the businesses surveyed are tuned in--and they have great reason to be. The most important, and most obvious to most, is the younger the generation of users, the more likely they are to be tuned in. While the tech companies focus on new ways to drive consumers to businesses, companies are looking for effective ways to reach consumers.