Brands increasingly see social media such as Twitter and Facebook as a mainstream tool for marketing activities, according to one analyst.

Tim Gibbon, editor of the Social Media Portal, which maps global social networking and user-generated content, said the growing importance of measuring the channel’s performance compared to other internet marketing services has been demonstrated by Nielsen and McKiney’s launch of NM Incite – an analytics platform that will specifically target social media.

"Social media is becoming a more established channel across advertising, marketing and PR, so these professionals, both agency and brand side, are eager to demonstrate the return on investment that they can bring," he added.

Mr Gibbon’s comments come after research by Econsultancy and Guava found that 81 per cent of firms currently market themselves via Twitter, while another 78 per cent carry out online PR on Facebook.

Furthermore, 65 per cent of marketers are planning to increase their investment in social media over the next 12 months.

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