Companies that started using social media to market to customers have found there are other benefits to being active on the platforms.

If it wasn’t already clear, businesses large and small are flocking to social media for marketing opportunities. A recent LinkedIn infographic based on data from November 2013 reaffirmed what most people already know: Social networks are essential tools for small businesses. Some of the impactful findings include the percentages of SMBs that find social media effective for certain tasks: 

– branding (90 percent)  
– word-of-mouth (88 percent)
– content marketing (89 percent)
– lead generation (82 percent)

However, those figures simply support the existing consensus about social networking. On the other hand, LinkedIn found some other information that proves why businesses should be involved with social media marketing – but not for the reasons one might think.

Research goes both ways

Consumers use social networking to learn about companies, whether they’re scouting B2B reputations or  conducting product research. However, LinkedIn discovered SMBs are doing the same – to competitors, customers and their industries at large. Almost half, or 49 percent of small businesses, admitted to doing so. They noted the practice gave them access to a network of peers, provided opportunities to learn from industry experts, helped them obtain insights and best practices and allowed them to find information to answer business questions.

This points to the importance of relationships and engagement for SEO. The entire internet in general, and social media in particular, are marketplaces for ideas. Google is trying to make the web a better place to find useful information, and the companies that provide it will be the most visible to customers. However, in the quest to be a valuable resource on the web, most businesses are realizing that there is a lot of information that can help them improve their own operations.

Important dialogues are taking place on social media, and businesses honestly interested in widening their marketing reach should be active on networks like LinkedIn or Facebook. There’s no silver bullet or secret formula for gaining visibility – there is only the truthful pursuit of conversation and the creation of endlessly valuable content. 

Alex Butzbach is a Marketing Writer at Brafton. He studied Communications at Boston College, and after a brief stint teaching English in Japan, he entered the world of content marketing. When he isn't writing and researching, he can be found on a bike somewhere in Metro Boston.