I have spent a lot of time working in the small-business space—from starting my own endeavors to working with other entrepreneurs to start theirs—and one of the most valuable lessons I've learned is that you have to stay lean. To do so, you need to observe what the big guys are doing.

You can't afford to do everything they do—you're on a shoestring budget (and even if you're not, you should pretend you are), but that's precisely why you watch them. The big guys are doing all that they are doing because they have the resources to test multiple tactics and measure the results before committing to the ones that gets the best results.

So when you see that the big guys are doing X, most likely they're doing so because they've tested and retested X, and it makes dollars and cents.

That brings me to a new trend worth watching. Everywhere around me now, I see companies dispensing with the traditional website in favor of integrating the most popular social networks right into the website and communicating with customers in real time via tweets and Facebook posts. Big players like Skittles and Coca-Cola have completely bought into social, as have savvy small mom-and-pop shops.

Here are four reasons that brands are opting for social sites—and why you might want to follow their lead.

1. It's fresh

You scour the Web every day to update your Facebook page with interesting news and industry info. When you turn your website into a social destination, that content you've worked so hard to collect becomes multipurpose: It keeps your current fans in the know and lets anyone who lands on your website get the most up-to-date information rather than static Web copy that hasn't been changed since the company started. We know you worked hard on that mission statement, but is that really what customers want to see when they search for you? Probably not.

Going social is an easy way to keep things fresh and your customers coming back.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Christian Briggs is the CEO of Cinsay, the shareable, shoppable video e-commerce platform that debuted at Demo Spring 2012. Follow him on Twitter: @cinsay.