Despite the fact that the channel has been a part of the business landscape for several years, many social media marketing challenges persist.

Marketing practices have changed drastically in recent years with the rise of social media. And it's no surprise that many businesses struggled to adjust to platforms like Facebook and Twitter when they first rose to prominence. But according to a new study from Leger Marketing and SAS Canada, despite the fact that the channel has been a part of the business landscape for several years, many of these social media marketing challenges persist.

The study, which surveyed 1,000 executives from Canadian companies, found that just 30 percent of businesses actively use social media sites. Furthermore, only a little more than half of social marketers are using social media platforms effectively. Effective social marketing includes not only posting on social networks, but also monitoring for corporate mentions and engaging consumers in dialogue.

Businesses that fail to interact with consumers through social media may be missing a gift-wrapped opportunity to bolster their brands. Social media provides a convenient (and often affordable) channel for businesses to reach out to consumers. However, as the report highlighted, social media marketing is only effective if companies are willing to dedicate the time and resources to monitor what people are saying.

“Haphazard use of social media, like posting without regular, consistent monitoring, is not only an ineffective use of resources, but also misses a fantastic opportunity to engage with customers on a personal level,” said Katie Delahaye Paine, CEO of KDPaine & Partners, in response to the study.

Investing in consistent social marketing campaigns could pay off for brands catering to a wide variety of online audiences. When social networking first arrived on the scene, it was generally favored by younger users. But, as Brafton recently reported, a new study from Pew Research found social media is becoming more popular among adults, with 32 percent of baby boomers using social networking sites. As older users (who often have deeper pockets than their college-aged children) continue to gravitate toward social media, businesses could benefit by tapping into this market.