I recently had a dinner with a friend who works outside of the marketing industry. As I sent a Snap of my cheeseburger to a friend (yes, I’m guilty of that) he asked why I was taking a picture of my food and if I was going to “Insta-frame it or whatever.”

Now, I understand that this is an extreme case, but I could only stare in mortification as I realized how completely out of touch he was with social media.

The rise of social networking as a marketing tool is old news to those of us running brand accounts, but we tend to forget that consumers don’t view social media like we do.

For example, Pew released a study on Monday that revealed what percent of the US population has a Twitter account and what percent of Twitter users go there for news.  Care to venture a guess?

As a marketer, I would expect that number to be incredibly high. Twitter and Facebook are the two strongest social networks right now. 77 percent of Fortune 500 companies use Twitter and 70 percent use Facebook. Surely the brands are just going where the users are?

Well, Pew found that only 16 percent of American adults use Twitter, and only eight percent use Twitter as a news source.

Last May, Fast Company published an infographic that compared social media use of marketers to social media use by the general public. The numbers were pretty drastic. 16 percent of the general population might be on Twitter, but 92 percent of marketers use it.

Oh, and you know how we always joke that the only people on Google+ are marketers? That’s kind of true. 61 percent of marketers are on Google+ but only 23 percent of the general population uses it. Scarily, 71 percent of marketers pay attention to brands on Facebook, but only 23 percent of the general population does.

This is the bubble that marketers live in. We (I say we because I’m equally guilty of this) tend to get sucked into the strategy of marketing instead of living in the trenches with our pulse on consumers.

So what’s a marketer to do?

Don’t pigeon-hole customer communication. 

Some industries – like flower companies – thrive on handling customer service issues on Twitter, but they also have an email address and contact form on their site. Some people even want to pick up the phone and contact a real person. Give your customers options for contacting you. If they’re comfortable in the platform they’ll be calmer and more understanding with your solutions.

Follow your audience.

Your audience won’t come to you. At least, they won’t create a Twitter account just to read your updates. Talk to your customers and learn how they communicate. The easiest way to determine whether you’re meeting their needs is to ask them.

The good news is that marketers are chronic early-adopters. We all jump on trends and new sites or risk getting left behind. Eventually the general population will catch up to us, it might just take a little longer than we think.