Social sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, are growing increasingly integral to the customer acquisition process.

Social sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, are growing increasingly integral to the customer acquisition process. According to a new study conducted by global provider of workplace solutions Regus, nearly half of all businesses use the marketing channel to generate new customers, highlighting the importance of social media content.

Forty-three percent of respondents say they leverage social media to win new customers, marking an 8 percent increase over last year. While Facebook is still the leading platform in terms of membership, Twitter has caught on with marketers – 50 percent of respondents use Twitter to connect with and engage prospects

In fact, social networks have become necessary marketing tools, with 38 percent of businesses stating they allocate one-fifth of their marketing budgets to the channel. Additionally, 69 percent of companies cite the channel as a necessary to their advertising strategies.

“More and more companies are leveraging [social media] to increase the loyalty of existing customers, and as a successful acquisition tool,” notes Sande Golgart, regional vice president for Regus.

User engagement is key, with Brafton reporting that a recent survey from InboxQ suggests consumers are more likely to make purchases with brands that offer them rich information and answer their queries via social networks.