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Merchants are increasingly using social media to monitor mentions and engage with customers, but are using the sites less as prospecting tools, according to [download page] a Multichannel Merchant survey released in June 2012. A leading 76.9% of the respondents this year said they use social media to monitor what customers are saying about their brands, up 34% from 57.5% last year. Close behind, 74% are using social to engage in conversation with consumers, up from 68.9% in 2011. This year, though, just 3 in 5 are trying to prospect for new customers through social media; last year, this was the top use, by 71.7%.

The rise in relevance of social media as a customer engagement tool was reported recently in an IBM survey of more than 1,700 CEOs. According to those survey results, CEOs predict that social media will become one of the dominant customer engagement tools in the next 3-5 years (to be used by 57%), despite being the least utilized tool for interaction today (at 16%). Read the rest at MarketingCharts.