I'm a big fan of David Meerman Scott and his Web Ink Now blog.
David writes a terrific post about the people who - out of ignorance - say that they never read blogs. I always reply that since blogs invariable show up near the top of every Google search, they are undoubtedly reading blogs and don't know it.
When people who are not regular users of social media ask their network for advice, they often do it via email. Frequently the answer that comes back includes URLs to companies and products. And those links from friends, colleagues of family members often include blog posts.
People are using social media sites, they just don't call them that. Forums and discussion boards existed long before blogs. Some of us crusty old guys made heavy use of a thing called Usenet.
People gather in these electronic communities centered around their hobbies or topic of interest. Because each community is populated by people from all walks of life, you can typically find a wide range of topics being discussed there. A huge body of experience and knowledge is available to community members just for the asking.
This is social media.
As a respected member of a Mercedes-Benz forum, for example, you can ask about Weed-Eaters and most likely get a high-quality answer from someone there you trust. These trust relationships are the engines that make social media work. Building trust relationships in these communities is not for those who want immediate results. It takes time, patience, and a willingness to contribute to the community. It does however reap huge dividends.
Markets Are Conversations. The Cluetrain.
Disclaimer: I know Chris Locke - co-author of Cluetrain Manifesto, and I consider him a friend and mentor. Chris wrote Gonzo Marketing WAY back in 2001 in which he discussed this very concept. Chris was way ahead of his time