Companies using social media marketing successfully have found the channel benefits lead generation campaigns.

Social media marketing campaigns have helped companies effectively using them generate an average of 17 percent of their leads, a report from the Aberdeen Group. While the channel has been a strong source of new business opportunities for most companies using it, those with the most engaging campaigns have seen 230 percent more leads with their activity.

Launching marketing campaigns using Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms has helped businesses expand their brands’ recognition as well. Aside from new clients and customers, these organizations have improved retention efforts since moving into the channel.

Aberdeen studied companies seeing the most leads generated with social and found that many have made social media marketing a more important part of their web marketing activity. Aside from greater lead generation and customer retention, many cited a series of other benefits stemming from social, including great brand visibility.

Additionally, certain practices emerged as common traits among organizations with top-performing campaigns. Directing more resources to social as it becomes more effective occurred among 47 percent of these companies.

Many also used social to glean more insights into their target audiences. While this was a common practice for very few organizations, more actionable data helped inform results-driven strategies for social and other marketing campaigns. For example, a greater understanding of the reasons customers use a product or service can help inform content marketing campaigns to showcase benefits that will drive transactions. Other elements, such as the times of day social engagement surges, can dictate publishing schedules and editorial calendars most likely to garner visibility for a company.

While not every organization is seeing as much engagement and lead generation with social media marketing, most in the channel are increasing their activity and investment. Brafton recently reported that more than half of companies using Facebook marketing will be more active on the platform moving forward. Similarly, for both Twitter and Google+, more than 40 percent of marketers indicated a desire to build their presence on the platforms in 2012.

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.