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Technology: 8 Reasons Why Social Media is Essential for Your Business

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Social media marketing is pervasive and popular, but is it really effective? Will a business’s investment of time and money in social media campaigns really provide a return beyond winning a popularity contest on a blog, Facebook, or Twitter?

According to a number of recent surveys and reports, social media marketing is not only effective at boosting a company’s profile, it is actually providing a wide range of benefits. In fact, it’s so effective that far more companies are using social media to connect with customers than those who are not.

8 Ways Social Media Marketing Can Benefit Your Business

Here are eight ways social media marketing can benefit your business:

1.) Increase Website Traffic

A 2011 report by the Social Media Examiner found that 88 percent of business owners surveyed use social media, from blogs to Facebook to YouTube, as a way of generating exposure for their businesses. Better yet, while a high number of social media marketers are seeing results for their efforts, 49 percent also enjoyed cost savings through social media investments.

2.) Manage Marketing Channels and Actions

Besides being easy to set up, business owners are able to meet customers where they’re already spending time and make connections for a minimal investment of time. Entrepreneur Magazine reported that “67 percent of owners said the fact that social media marketing is easier to master and utilize brought them around. That’s up from 54 percent in the previous survey. And it didn’t hurt a bit that 51 percent of these surveyed merchants and business people discovered that their customers prefer to use media channels.”

3.) Interact With Customers

In a 2011 survey of small business owners, e-mail marketing firm Constant Contact found the following: “Facebook continues to be the social media tool of choice — but Twitter is gaining ground, both in terms of usage and effectiveness. 60 percent of those using Twitter found it to be an effective tool to connect with customers — up from 47 percent in the spring.” These tools make it easy to interact with customers, an approach to social media adopted by 60% of the business owners surveyed.

4.) Improve Search Rankings With Google+

With the recent addition of Google’s Search Plus that integrates a user’s Google+ network with search results, a company profile on Google+ and Google+ buttons on a website can help increase a business’s exposure in Google’s searches. Chris Brogan writes, “[Google+] makes it a lot easier for people to find--and shop at--your business. Run a hamburger business in Milwaukee? Post "best hamburgers in Milwaukee." You should see more customers walking through your door in no time flat.”

5.) Achieve Greater Product Awareness

Though Facebook has helped brands increase their visibility, Facebook’s new “Actions” option will help customers specify what they’re doing with particular brands—a real step forward in brand awareness. Search Engine Journal reports, “These Actions let users specifically indicate their interaction with a location, products, and more. For example, one may visit a local coffee shop and indicate they “bought” a particular drink. Immediately, that action is posted on their wall and their average of 130 friends can interact with that action.  Others may comment, share, or even visit that store the next day to see for themselves.”

6.) Conduct Market Research on Social Media

As early as 2008 marketing executives caught on to the value of social media for tracking customer preferences, with 59% of respondents to an eMarketer Survey stating that they use social networks in order to track the responses and preferences of their customers. Social networks break down walls and create opportunities to interact with customers.

7.) Increase Sales Through Social Media Marketing

Though many businesses are still focusing on increasing brand awareness and connection points with customers through their social media efforts, there are some real returns that companies report. According to a 2011 report by Wildfire Marketing, 58 percent of their respondents point to increased sales and partnerships. This is a number that will only grow as businesses become more adept at turning social media connections into conversions.

8.) Generate Leads With Social Media Marketing

Besides generating exposure and sales, social media also increases the number of sales leads for business owners. The Social Media Examiner shares, “By spending as little as 6 hours per week, 52% of marketers see lead generation benefits with social media.”

Social media is now, without any doubt, an essential tool for any business that wants to increase interaction with customers, build brand awareness, and expand revenue opportunities.

How has social media changed your life? What are your favorite social media tools?

Picture courtesy of flickr.

This guest post is written by Lior Levin, a marketing consultant for an inspection company that offers Pre shipment inspections and, who also consults for a company that provides a  to do list application for businesses and individuals.

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