What’s the big “to do” about social media marketing? This is from a guy (or a generation) that grew up with print, radio, billboards and direct mail. I remember in my earlier days … this would be the 70’s, sitting in a marketing class listening to the founder of Zale’s Jewelers and his take on advertising. I’ll never forget his opening remarks … “50% of their advertising dollars were a waste”. He went on to say “the problem is … we don’t know which 50% it is”. In those days, in order to fully capitalize on a season, you needed to utilize ALL of the advertising media because it was nearly impossible to target an audience with just one media source.

Well, those days are long gone and today-with a focused social media campaign, small businesses can increase their brand awareness, legitimize a brand, increase sales, improve customer service and distribute content.

The goals of social media marketing can’t be just to gain likes, fans, and retweets. These things are not ends, but means to an end. Social media marketing is far more than an online popularity contest, and the better business owners understand that, the better they can use it for their companies. Here are eight benefits to social media that business owners need to understand.

  1. Relationship building – The one-to-one dialogue you can have in social media makes it a powerful platform for building a closer affinity with customers and brand loyalty.
  2. It’s where your customers are – Facebook isn’t merely a domain filled with teenagers and 20 somethings. It now attracts all demographics and ages. In fact, Facebook’s fastest growing segment is the over 55s.
  3. Word of mouth/ viral marketing – Social media can spread your offers and messages amongst 1000s of people very quickly. And the best part is that it’s your customers spreading them for you.
  4. Give your brand personality – Posting messages everyday can develop people’s perception of your brand’s personality very quickly through your writing style and tone of voice.
  5. Gain feedback – You can ask questions and run polls to gain valuable insight on how you can improve your products and services.
  6. Learn more about customers – By listening and participating in their online conversations you can find out more about your customers’ problems, likes and dislikes and preferences.
  7. Low cost of entry – Creating profiles and pages on Facebook and Twitter is quick, easy and free to do.
  8. Customer service – People don’t rely on email and the phone to get their questions answered anymore. They’re now posting messages in blogs and forums to get them resolved

  9. Crisis marketing – When something goes wrong, your customers want to know how you’re going to put it right. Many aren’t going to wait for a press release or newspaper article before they start forming a negative opinion about your lethargic response. Twitter can be used to get your apologies out fast, and enable you to answer concerned customers’ questions
    It’s not the 70’s, but ultimately, deciding whether to use social networks in your marketing mix comes down to whether it’s right for your business. It’s not a ‘quick fix’ that will suddenly give you a burst of sales, but it does offer enormous potential for relationship building in the long run.