Investing in social media is part of a growing trend by businesses right now. Whether it is technology companies buying social media startups or commercial brands increasing their social media marketing budget, the faith in the opportunities presented by social media is undeniable.

Retailers are leading the charge in investing in social media. Based on the analytics and information that is available through sites such as Facebook, Groupon and Twitter retailers are able to develop more targeted advertisements.

A study conducted by IDC “highlights the adoption of social media as an emerging technology across six major vertical markets including banking, government, healthcare, manufacturing, retail and utilities.” The report found that B2C companies, especially retailers are leading the adoption rates of social media, citing that these companies are able to use social media to “increase productivity and improve knowledge sharing as they leverage social networks to share best practices and identify appropriate resources.”

Information gathered also showed that “successful retailers are integrating their mobile, analytic and social media strategies into one cohesive business approach. Social media touch points such as Facebook, Twitter, and Groupon are enabling these organizations to analyze customer behavior and in turn deliver personalized offers direct to a consumer’s mobile device.” The amount of information users’ offer and share with companies when engaging in social media can help make marketing efforts more strategic and successful when directed at the proper audience.

Interestingly, the study also determined that many companies and marketers are still using social media as a one way forum to push their message or receive feedback from users, not as the conversational medium it was intended for. As we know, users engage in social media in order to share information about themselves so companies must consider what their content says about the users that are sharing and interacting with it.

The most popular reason businesses are using social media is to increase brand and product awareness. Based on the fact that social networks have increased the range and speed of word of mouth conversations to travel, this is one of the best qualities social media has to offer companies.

Users of the various social platforms relate to their friends and family and are more likely to act on a recommendation from someone they know, rather than from an advertisement. This is the same reasoning behind the success rates marketers have seen in Facebook’s sponsored stories as opposed to traditional advertisements placed on the site.

The information that is available to gather from social networks has proven powerful for many businesses, retailers especially. Maintaining analytics and monitoring these efforts takes time and money, however the payoff is substantial as we are now seeing.

Have you noticed any retailers that are doing a particularly good job in social media? Let us know in the comments!