Small businesses who Tweet see better metrics than those that neglect the social media platform.

Social marketers take note: Twitter followers may be ready-made customers. According to a recent study from Performics, social media is impacting online shopping, and users of the microblogging site in particular might make purchases with companies they follow.

The Impact of Social Media, a report from Performics and ROI, reveals that social networks are changing the way people make buying decisions. Half of respondents say they consult social channels for shopping advice, and half say they turn to social networks to give their opinions on brands, products and services.

Marketers should insert themselves in these social conversations to influence consumers' brand perceptions – and perhaps catch customers. Performics CEO Daina Middleton says “fifty-three percent [of respondents] said products, services or companies should communicate with fans on social networking sites at least once per week.”

Twitter users, in particular, seem ready to let brand engagement impact their purchase decisions. More than half of respondents (59 percent) are more likely to recommend a company they follow, and 58 percent are more likely to buy a product they follow. With this in mind, marketers will want boost their Twitter marketing campaigns to increase their followers.

One way to gain – and maintain – Twitter followers is by consistently tweeting fresh, branded content. The No. 1 reason consumers stop following companies on Twitter is because the content becomes repetitive or boring, according to a survey from ExactTarget.