With Facebook surpassing 1 trillion page views per month, its value as a social media marketing platform and SEO driver is growing substantially.

A report from Punch Communications pointed to Facebook surpassing 1 trillion monthly page views as evidence of the value of sharing content through social channels. Inbound link building is a critical element of SEO campaigns, and the ability to share content with a constantly growing audience through Facebook and other platforms means social distribution of site content can help businesses generate new traffic.

Brafton reported earlier this year that Facebook now has more than 800 million active users. By actively sharing relevant articles, newsletters and other content, businesses can appeal to social users and help drive traffic. Moreover, Punch says Facebook engagement is the fastest way to expand brand visibility. A business’ number of fans will grow quickly if the company provides informative, original content.

Social media marketing also provides a more attractive alternative to displays ads and other more “obtrusive” forms of web marketing, Punch reported. According to the study, 84 percent of 25- to 34-year-old adults have left a website due to excessive display advertising. Reducing the share of marketing budgets allocated to these channels in favor of social campaigns, which are proven to help SEO and content marketing plans, is likely to save money and improve ROI.

“Social media … offers a more subtle form of promotion that provides something of use and interest to fans,” Pete Goold, managing director at Punch Communications, said in a release. “As a result, fans will feel more inclined to engage and promote a brand that is offering them a service and quality content.

Goold went on to remind marketers that it’s important to invest in content marketing to support social (and other) campaigns if they hope to see optimal ROI. He said, “Sharing content that will earn a user’s attention is a process that takes consideration and time. Content needs to be deemed as shareable or useful enough for the user to ‘Like it’ and in turn engage the page.”.

In addition to boosting inbound links and brand awareness, social media has proven beneficial for lead generation. Brafton reported on Wednesday that Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter have all helped B2B and B2C companies find and convert new leads. Fifty-five percent of businesses included in the study said they have closed deals from social media leads, and 60 percent expect to expand their budgets for social 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.