Small businesses are the backbone of the economy across the U.S. These companies are crucial for financial growth and stability, and they provide valuable products and services to many different types of customers. One of the biggest tools offered to these organizations is social media, and a recent study has illustrated just how prominent these sites have become. 

Social media helps with marketing, learning
Not only is social media crucial for marketing, but small businesses have also been on these sites in order to learn. This is one key takeaway from LinkedIn's study, titled Priming the Economic Engine. Also of note is how optimistic owners and entrepreneurs have become, with many believing that 2014 will be a better year than the last.

In addition, LinkedIn found that 81 percent of small- to medium-sized businesses currently use social media. That equals more than 1 million companies in North America alone, with ties to $4.5 trillion in potential revenue. Social media has also become a fantastic tool to grow a small business and its financial plan. The study noted that these sites are great methods to increase overall revenue significantly year-over-year. 

Most importantly, LinkedIn reported that social media has been used by numerous small businesses to build relationships. This can be achieved by building followers, encouraging referrals and recommendations, offering real-time assistance and publishing thought leadership, among others. 

Engage with followers, don't just post
The prime goal of any social media strategy should be to engage with followers, not simply talk at them. Sites such as Facebook and Twitter won't have a big impact on a financial plan, but this doesn't mean there aren't subtle nuances that require some attention. 

For starters, companies should balance posts with unique types of content, according to SocialMediaExaminer. Variety will attract people's attention better, and posting the same articles over and over again won't do any good. Therefore, mix it up. Share photos, videos, links and ask questions. This is a great way to engage users, because they will be more inspired to interact. 

Moreover, think about writing social media posts that don't have a short shelf life. On Facebook, a blog post that is relevant for months on end will constantly create engagement, and it provides an avenue for consumers to discuss and share ideas and feedback. These unique posts are only one aspect of a solid social media strategy, but investing the time and money has shown to have numerous positive results for small business owners.