Still the hottest issue in marketing, social media has pretty much made its way into daily morning routines of business professionals. Social media is now where websites were a decade ago: customers expect you to be there and are suspicious when you’re not.

In a survey by Brandfog, 82% of respondents were more likely or much more likely to trust a company whose management engage with social media and 77% likely to buy from those companies.

Some small companies have turned social media into true money making channels. It social-media-keyboardenables management to connect directly with highly targeted customers frequently, respond to questions and inquiries and feedback real time, allowing them to really deepen relationships and create new business opportunities. Food truck businesses have grown phenomenally by spawning cult followings of their brands across social media.

However a new survey also says nearly two-thirds of owners say their companies haven’t seen apparent return even as they have increased the time they spend on social media activities. Generating content and interacting on social media takes time, effort as well as money for ads and additional staff.

Social media engagement presents a strategic challenge even for today’s business leaders.  As executives begin to migrate to social media channels, this shift is likely to have far-reaching and strategic implications for brand loyalty, brand image and brand awareness

While some businesses may still be better off spending time at trade show exhibits than spending a year on Facebook, social media is here to stay. No business can succeed without marketing, and social media is the marketing channel of our current time. Another trend for social media is going mobile to get customers in the door. 32 % of the SMBs are using some form of mobile advertising to promote their businesses, up from 28% in 2012.

The next generation of business leaders will require new talents and a different set of skills to successfully grow their companies. While its demands of transparency and high level interaction makes it time consuming and risky, it makes for an excellent avenue to champion company values and enhance the reputations of a company.