Social media platforms allow us to connect quickly with people and brands. We are forming relationships faster than ever before, with people and brands alike. Additionally, many studies are emerging to show that social media interactions have a direct impact on consumer-buying choices, which is transforming the retail market, advertising and global business overall.

As a small business owner, breaking into social media can be a scary and daunting task. Resources are often limited, but in this day and age…

Can your small business really afford not to be using social media?

Most small businesses understand the importance of social media, but do not how to leverage it to produce real results such as acquiring new business, gaining customer feedback, and most importantly, boosting sales and profitability.

In a recent study, 73 percent of small-business owners said they access social networks on smartphones or other mobile devices, yet 67 percent are holding back on investing in social media because they do not know where to begin. What does this mean?

Small businesses need a roadmap to proceed in social media.

My recommendation to businesses is to build a social media marketing plan and determine what you hope to achieve from your social media efforts. Once your strategic goals and objectives are defined, you can begin establishing a brand presence and social footprint, gathering resources, and venturing into social media.

Of course, it is important to remember that content is king. When adopting a social media strategy, be prepared to commit to feeding your social channels with interesting content that will resonate with your target consumer groups. Simple rules: 1) Post interesting content, 2) take every opportunity to start, join, or otherwise engage in a conversation.

The power of social media for your small business is infinite. The same business adage applies to social media marketing: you will get out of it what you put into it. If you provide your employees with the right tools to foster innovation and collaboration, you will undoubtedly see a high return on yoursocial media investment. Use these channels to leverage social media-driven customer service and enhance consumer engagement. Done successfully, this can strengthen brand visibility, awareness and loyalty.

Many small businesses are seeing big results with social media. A recent Crowdspring study showed that 61% of small businesses are landing new customers through social media activities.

Social media marketing can do remarkable things for your small businesses, but only if it is properly implemented and maintained. Do your homework, train your employees, and remain authentic to your brand. Most importantly, be sure to listen to customer feedback to shape the future of your business.

The article was adapted from Pyxle - a provider of benchmark Internet Business Solutions.