There is no magic formula about how to use social media for your marketing. However, an enlightening new study just released this week by Chicago market research company Lab42 gives you stunning answers -- proof that social media matters, according to Mashable's tech industry specialist Samantha Murphy. Lab42 surveyed 1,000 social media users about how they interact with brands on Facebook -- the results show that half of all consumers believe that a brand's Facebook page "is more useful than its website".

50% of Consumers

What does this result say about how the social power of Facebook? The stunning response confirms the general perception that with hundreds of millions of users sharing with friends, Facebook is the world's ultimate matchmaker for companies and brands. 69% of those surveyed said that they "Liked" a brand on Facebook because a friend "Liked" the brand.

The survey goes further to confirm what we have been thinking about the power of social community -- 82% of respondents believe that a Facebook page is a good place to interact with brands. Out of these people, 35% of them feel that brands listen to them more on Facebook than anywhere else.

Naturally, there are frequently economic motivations -- 77% of those people who "Liked" a brand on Facebook have saved money as a result of coupons, discounts, and so on.

Post good Photos for bringing the most "Likes"

If you want to market something, how do you actually go about to get better engagement with your visitors on Facebook? Mashable's Murphy suggested that the first thing to do is make sure you have lots of pictures, and secondly, to make sure that you speak in the first person.

Murphy highlighted social media data expert HubSpot's Dan Zarella, who recently released details about his analysis of more than 1.3 million posts from the 10,000 most-Liked Facebook pages -- e.g., which posts get the most "Likes", shares and comments, which are the best post types and lengths, and which are the best times of the day to add updates.

As you would expect, photos draw the largest number of people, more than would text or video, according to Zarella. Posts that refer to "I" and "me" tend to get more "Likes". The least "Likes", shares and comments are generated by news links -- perhaps it's because news are not personal to the person posting them. To reinforce this theory, HubSpot's Zarella told Mashable, the leading social media website, that it's "important to be passionate, not neutral".

What times are the best?

Zarella's study also shows that Facebook posts that go up on weekends tend to get more "Likes" than those during the week, perhaps because there are fewer posts to compete against at those times. Thursday is, like many other offline social activities, the least active day for "Likes".

So what does that 50% result mean? Does it mean that 50% of consumers believe that a Facebook page is really more informative than a website? Or is it the reverse -- in other words,does it simply mean that they are frustrated by the lack of creativity attributed to designing informative and interactive websites?

While market experts go about getting that answer for us, the practical task facing us now is learning to work with the acknowledged social power of Facebook.