If you're not online, chances are no one knows you even exist. The 2008 Cone Business in Social Media Study, conducted by the Boston-based consulting firm, found that 93% of Americans believe that a company should have a presence on social media sites and 85% believe that these companies should use these services to interact with consumers. Social media enables consumers to get up close with companies in a way that hasn't been possible in years past. In return, companies can expect to develop strong customer loyalty and better ways to improve user experience, as well as customer service.Social media has evolved considerably in the past few years, according to a recent social media study, 56% of consumers believe that a company is providing them with a better service by interacting with them on social media sites. If that doesn't get you and your company embracing Web and Enterprise 2.0, it's possible that nothing will. Social media can mean lots of things to different people, so companies have a plethora of opportunities to explore. Whether it's online chats to answer customers' questions, online product videos, or representation on social networking sites, companies have the freedom to experiment with tools that can be implemented easily and affordably. Because users are constantly enhancing the way they keep in touch, make and maintain relationships with friends and family, it's only natural to assume that they'd demand the same ease of approach from companies. At present, the study reports that 60% of Americans regularly interact with companies on a social media site, with more men than women likely to use social media to interact. At a time when the economy is putting more pressure on companies, especially smaller businesses, to secure revenue from weary consumers and the even wearier credit industry, social media may be the answer that allows them to gain the interest and loyalty of customers while providing a helpful, efficient and innovative user experience. Back in June, we reported that 88% of businesses are ready to start using social networking, so with increased consumer support, it's a no-brainer. Get social and customers will follow.