Social media is helping small businesses improve their customer service operations.

There was a time when only big businesses were afforded brand name recognition, but experts agree that social media marketing is offering SMBs the chance to develop brand loyalty and generate sales. As Business Insider reports, small businesses are increasinly investing in social media marketing to reach online audiences and develop their brands.

The news source references a study indicating that nearly 20 percent of small to medium businesses prefer social media marketing over other forms of promoting their businesses. Marketers cite the consumers’ ability to instantly share branded Tweets and Facebook posts with other social users as key to the channel’s effectiveness in boosting brand recognition.

Social marketing not only helps businesses connect with consumers for branding purposes, but it can also generate low-cost leads. ”Social media will briefly introduce you and help you reach prospects in a multiple-level cascading effect at almost 0.01 percent cost and close to 55 percent ROI on leads generated,” suggests the source.

Small business marketers might find that using local content to appeal to social consumers is especially effective. As ContentLEAD reported earlier this month, nearly half of local businesses use social media marketing to appeal to nearby social audiences.