With more than 70 percent of businesses using social media marketing, Chief Marketer believes it has gone mainstream.

In its annual Social Media Marketing Survey, Chief Marketer found 73 percent of companies are currently engaged in social media marketing campaigns compared to 64 percent last year. Also, the survey found that 15 percent plan to use social marketing moving forward.

Only 8 percent of companies have no plans to integrate social at all.

According to the study, 85 percent of respondents will use social media content to improve their engagement with prospects. Sixty percent cite increased social media use by their prospects as the main driver of their social marketing efforts.

Another interesting element of the shift toward social is that companies are hoping to use the channel to make their marketing more conversational, with 47 percent of respondents naming this as a goal. Producing engaging content can help businesses appeal to their prospects on multiple levels. Indeed, 69 percent of companies say they include social sharing buttons on their content pages to foster social conversations around their brand.

Another 59 percent invest in unique content for social followers, and businesses might consider adding @replies to the custom social content mix (if they haven’t already). Even in the event of negative feedback from a client or customer, social media provides a channel to speak directly to the customer and address the issue.

Brafton recently reported that the companies using social to interact directly with their clients often benefit from better business relationships with their prospects than those that passively use social or fail to use it at all.

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.