A new study suggests social media marketing is one of the most effective ways to drive website traffic, second only to organic search.

Marketers invest in social media content as part of their overarching online strategies, but there is now proof that active participation drives traffic back to brands’ websites. The 2013 Forrester Search Marketing Playbook reveals 32 percent of consumers find web pages through social sites – making popular networks like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ second only to organic search results for online discovery.

Social networks have rapidly progressed as consumers’ preferred methods for finding companies’ websites, the report found. In 2010, 18 percent found domains through social media, and that figure increased to 25 percent in 2011 before hitting the one-third mark last year.

Keep in mind that as social media’s reach continues to widen, branded content shared on social networks can drive additional prospects back to companies’ homepages. Brafton recently reported 67 percent of internet users will log onto networks at least once a month in 2013 and approximately 25 percent of the world’s population will be on social media by the end of the year.

Marketers who invest in their social presences keep their brands in front of online consumers and benefit from additional website traffic. As companies allocate resources toward social media marketing campaigns, their bottom lines will ultimately show upticks that can be attributed back to these popular networks.

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.