Numerous local business owners have taken the plunge into social media – but some studies recently found they may not be getting the best value for the time.

Chris Fougere, the owner and chef of Fude restaurant, said making the decision to invest in social media marketing was a no-brainer.

Fougere uses Facebook, Twitter and a blog to promote his restaurant and said the results are impressive.

"As a thank-you for entering a draw we give people a voucher for a free appetizer," explained Fougere. "When they bring in that voucher, we can in fact track that they have come from Facebook."

Fougere uses the sites to post promotions and contests as well as connect with customers.

"The biggest one for us for sure is Facebook," said Fougere.

Kevin Gordon teaches seminars and runs social media sites at Thompson, Dorfman, Sweatmen Law offices. He said while social media tools can be an effective tool for businesses, simply being on the sites isn't enough.

Twitter and Facebook can draw a following, but if business owners are looking for new clients, donations or volunteers, they need to focus their efforts.

"You want to post content and messages that are engaging and keep them coming back for more content on your site," said Gordon.

Gordon said in order to maximize benefits from the time business owners invest in social media, they should be clear about what they want to achieve and be consistent with their message. They also need to post often and ask for feedback.

Finally, Gordon said, never censor or hide negative comments.

While that might be a tough pill to swallow for some business owners, Fougere agrees. Fougere said he welcomes customer complaints on his social media pages.

"They complain in front of a huge audience, but now you have the chance to make it right in front of that same huge audience," Fougere said.

"Sometimes I get frustrated when people call and complain because I'm thinking, ‘No one's hearing me fix this but you,' " he said.

And that openness to the ups and downs of social media has helped Fougere build a potential customer database of nearly 13,000 people.

"It's not going away. You've got to be in there. You've got to plug into it," he said.