Social media marketing's growth has enabled businesses to improve their lead generation and web traffic, while boosting visibility throughout the web as well.

A study from the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth’s Center for Marketing Research found that social media marketing campaigns have improved lead generation and web traffic for a majority of the businesses using the channel and investments are rising, accordingly.

Eighty-eight percent of businesses said they have increased their web traffic as a direct result of social media marketing. Additionally, 81 percent said the tool has improved lead generation.

Ninety percent of companies said using social has improved the visibility of their company as well. As more Americans turn to the web to make purchase decisions, ensuring that a company maintains a presence throughout the web is critical – and social marketing allows businesses to maintain a presence on these websites, while also boosting their search presence among logged-in users.

Most platforms saw increased investment in 2011, compared to 2010 – a trend UMD expects to continue. The lone site that saw a marked decrease was Myspace, which has become essentially obsolete in the last few years.

According to the report, 74 percent of companies are currently using Facebook marketing, compared to 71 percent in 2010. The growth compared to 2009 is even greater, when just 61 percent reported that they used the social network in their new media marketing mix.

Other networks becoming more popular as part of social media marketing include Linkedin, Twitter, YouTube and Foursquare – all of which showed growth last year. Google’s entrant into the social market was absent from the survey, but it is certainly gaining interest among marketers.

Google+’s user growth could compel businesses to implement the platform into their social strategies. Brafton recently reported that the network now counts more than 100 million users.

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.