It’s hard to believe that less than a decade ago most marketing was done through three channels: print, broadcast and radio. Today, with the magnitude of social media websites and niche media platforms, marketing possibilities are endless.

Businesses that were early adopters of social media strategies are reaping the benefits today, while late adopters struggle to gain a foothold in the digital market.

Aside from timing, businesses that are digitally engaged with customers and clients usually perform better financially and are able to better control their overall image and brand.

Social Media Is Not a Fad

Once believed to be a passing trend, social media is now one of the leading market tools, particularly for companies looking to target the millennial market.

A recent report released by Startup Grind found 90 percent of consumers rely on peer recommendations when it comes to the products they purchase and guess how that peer-to-peer contact is made: social media.

The report goes on to describe the new digital landscape, “internet 3.0”, if you will. In this new age where social media use is a given, influencers, instead of celebrities, are used to advertise and market for major and even smaller brands.

“Influencer” is a new term and refers to the quasi-celebrity status garnered through social media. Influencers are Youtubers, podcasters, Instagrammers and Tweeters.  However, unlike others on social media, these influencers have hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of subscribers and followers who routinely (many times a day) check the influencer’s many media channels.

According the Startup Grind report, influencers represent the pinnacle of social media engagement.  For example, 60 percent of consumers have at one time or another made a purchase based on an influencer’s recommendation, and as many as 81 percent of consumers trust advice they have received from a popular or well-regarded blog.

Social media marketing is effective because it creates an open channel of communication, which removes the guessing as to whether a campaign is making an impact or reaching the right demographic.

Social Media Analytics Are Important

Currently in use by as many as 96 percent of all marketing plans, social media marketing has been cited with increasing brand awareness, aiding in identify key audiences, generating leads, and facilitating a platform to build meaningful relationships with customers.

This is achieved through the incredibly detailed and thorough analytics that are available for each social website. This real time data is invaluable to businesses committed to customer engagement and satisfaction.

There are also businesses that are particularly versed in compiling gauging and strengthening web traffic through analytics. Companies like Toronto-based Engagement Labs Inc. provide marketers and businesses with deep, intelligent data, analytics and insights to track, measure and benchmark the social media conversations happening around their specific brand or industry.

Canadian venture capitalist and entrepreneur G Scott Paterson has worked with Engagement Labs and notes the company’s industry-leading proprietary data technology that transforms the way brands extract value from the social web as the reason why Engagement Labs is not only successful, but continues to bring value to its client base over time.

The Canadian-based tech company has spent $25 million building an algorithm that can be likened to a deep, deep web crawler. Using this digital spider, every hour the web crawler is going into more than 100,000 social media channels and recording data on traffic, use, clicks and so on, explained G Scott Paterson.

2015 proved to be a banner year for social media marketing as the industry recorded its largest gains to date. By the end of the third quarter, Facebook’s advertising revenue had jumped to an astonishing $4.3billion and Twitter marked a 60 percent gain closing the year with $513 million in advertising revenue. This trend is expected to strengthen through 2016 and the years to come.