It wasn’t that long ago that small business considered social media nothing more than a time-sucking distraction; something to keep the employees from whiling away their days upon. Not any longer. Now you’d give your brother’s 401k for someone social media savvy enough to take your business to the next level.

The truth is, you probably have employees spending their work time on social media. What you may not have is a plan for how to best make use of their talents.

How are small businesses using social media going into 2015?

Now some 74.5 percent of small businesses report using social media to promote their companies, and they’re throwing money into it as well, as 21.4 percent count this as their highest media spend of all. Clearly, social media has gone from a waste of time to a viable marketing channel.

55 percent of these companies have a Facebook business page, and another 20 percent are using Facebook Ads to promote posts on that page.

The other major players contending for attention from small businesses are LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. Google+ could be included in this group, but as it stands now, having gone through yet another incarnation, many are unsure what to do with it. Google My Business is the latest offering from the folks at Google, and it is an ambitious attempt to consolidate Google+, Places, Map and God knows what else under one roof. We’ll see.

What can you do to get your business working with social media?

The first thing to do is to make a decision to start and stay active. Too many times you’ll see a Facebook Page tossed up with little care and no ongoing attention. You’re doing this to gather prospects and new customers for your business; don’t make this mistake!

Offer people who come to your social media pages helpful and unique content. Share what you find useful and valuable, and insert your own comments and reflections.

Be sure and post unique, useful content that will make people want to click through to your other properties, like your site, Blog or YouTube channel, and make an effort to engage with anyone who makes the effort to seek you out socially. You’ll find that the rewards of social media will soon begin to show themselves!