Social media marketing has changed the way many companies look at small business internet marketing as a whole. For the first time, consumers can respond publicly, in real time. As a result of this, the rules have shifted dramatically. Instead of local online marketing campaigns aimed directly at consumers or other businesses and having it end there, social media marketing allows this to turn into a conversation. This is what's known as "social engagement."

Social engagement is the communication between companies, employees, customers, clients, colleagues and their circles that go beyond products and services into conversations about the industry, tips and shared interests. Most importantly, this type of communication has become much easier through the use of social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Engagement not only builds deeper relationships, it helps companies grow their business. A recent study by PulsePoint Group, a management and digital consulting firm, indicates that businesses that actively take part in social engagements experience a business impact that is four times higher than those that do not. And when executives weighed in on the importance of this type of engagement, 84 percent believe that it will improve marketing and sales effectiveness.

"We believe we are seeing an inflection point at which many organizations are moving from an experimentation phase with social technologies to achieving tangible and measurable returns on the investments," Paul Walker, one of the company's partners, said in a statement to press. "Most notably, they are achieving enterprise-level scale that is impacting marketing and sales efficiency, increased sales and market share and speed to market with new products."

As a result, businesses are putting more effort towards making social media a higher priority in hopes of creating relationships with customers that end in long-term partnerships.