A report from Social Media Examiner found that 83 percent of companies say social media marketing is critical for their organizations.

As part of its Social Media Marketing Industry Report 2012, Social Media Examiner found that 83 percent of respondents said social media marketing has become integral to their companies. These respondents said social is “important” for their companies moving forward, based on past success.

Social media marketing campaigns have helped businesses in all industries drive traffic to their websites and improve their statuses as thought leaders by engaging with prospects. While the channel’s relative youth has resulted in some differing views on best practices, the amount of organizations relying on it proves its utility and value.

That said, 40 percent of companies using social want a better understanding of the return they’re seeing from the channel. They told Social Media Examiner that improving their ability to measure ROI will help inform their future investment and activity on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms.

Driving thought leadership is important, but most organizations want to focus on more tangible benefits of social, such as lead generation and conversions. Finding metrics that help attribute new leads and prospects to social marketing initiatives will help organizations make better decisions on their overall web marketing campaigns.

Brafton recently reported that Google has rolled out new analytics features that help businesses pinpoint the economic value of the channel for their brands. Social Reports are designed to demonstrate traffic increases, leads and conversion opportunities driven by social.

Joe Meloni is Brafton's former Executive News and Content Writer. He studied journalism at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and has written for a number of print and web-based publications.