This year has already seen its fair share of new social media trends, including the increased prominence of small businesses using these tools to pull off exceptional, cost-effective marketing strategies. While a company may already have a plan in place, there are still plenty of new things happening in regard to these websites.

The remainder of 2014 is expected to continue to provide fresh opportunities for businesses looking to take advantage of social media. From new websites to creative ideas, there is always something out there for every firm that wants to boost its financial plan. With that being said, it may be beneficial to pay attention to a few of these interesting trends, and adapt a current strategy to appeal to the perfect audience for a small business.

Social media is no longer an option
One of the biggest trends to emerge in 2014 has been the widespread use of social media. Everybody is doing it – from teenagers to large corporations. An effective strategy can be exactly what a small business needs, and hopping on board is no longer optional for the overall success of a company.

According to HootSuite, investing in these websites is now required. While previous years may have seen a company survive without a Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn account, that time has passed. Instead, small businesses have to be active and engaged in social media in order to reach a wide audience. This approach should then be integrated into traditional marketing, because a comprehensive plan of attack will be able to generate the most leads, referrals and revenue.

In addition, another social media trend in 2014 is the rise of Google Plus, HootSuite noted. This site is now one of the most popular options out there, ranking only behind Facebook in terms of the number of monthly users. Creating an account here will allow a small business access to the wide range of services provided by Google, including its search capabilities and in-depth data on demographics. Therefore, a company will be able to find a target audience easier than with other social media sites, streamlining the process and providing improved results.

Figure out who the audience is
Even with a widespread social media strategy using multiple websites, the approach – and financial plan – may struggle without a good understanding of the target audience. Figuring out the best site to use depends on these people, and everything could be thrown off track if proper research isn't done beforehand.

Heather Wied, director of marketing at Pubsoft, explained to FOXBusiness that the most important step to an effective small business social media strategy is identifying a target audience. Doing so can clearly define which website will work best, be it Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or even Vine.

"This is something that gets lost in small business strategy," Wied told the news source. "You want to be on all the different networks because you want the most exposure, but you should focus your efforts and use networks where your customers are."

For example, a younger generation will spend time on sites such as Instagram and Vine, while connecting with other businesses may be more effective on sites such as LinkedIn. Above all else, Wied stressed to FOXBusiness that companies have to dedicate the time and energy to social media. Not doing so can render a strategy ineffective. Even if a dedicated employee isn't available to manage these tasks, updating posts, checking up with contacts and staying visible should be a part of the everyday routine. If the content is fresh and fun, it may even be enjoyable to perform these tasks.