Social media marketing is proving to generate leads and conversions for participating brands.

Skeptics initially had concerns about promoting products and services on social media networks because the sites are innately social. Forrester Research analyst Sucharita Mulpuru went so far as to liken this to trying to sell to people at a bar when explaining why Facebook didn’t immediately gain traction as a shopping destination. However, there is now evidence that suggests the opposite is the case – people are converting after engaging with promotional social media content.

A survey conducted by Toluna and Adroit Digital revealed that consumers are influenced by social media recommendations. In total, 40 percent admitted their decisions are swayed by the reports they read on social sites, with 7 percent saying they are highly influential.

Shared social content might spark prospects’ interest, but it’s only the first step. Marketers must assume internet users are going to research products and services before converting. The survey confirms this idea, showing that around one-third of consumers buy after visiting one website, but 22 percent go to two domains and 17 percent navigate to a third before making up their minds. Content marketing gives companies a way to ensure effective messages are present at every stop along the way.

Lauren Kaye is a Marketing Editor at Brafton Inc. She studied creative and technical writing at Virginia Tech before pursuing the digital frontier and finding content marketing was the best place to put her passions to work. Lauren also writes creative short fiction, hikes in New England and appreciates a good book recommendation.