These days, most medium to large brands do some amount of social media marketing. After all, social media is where many people hang out, socialize, and relax. People also turn to social media for product advice, which is one reason that there are so many social media marketing benefits.
However, the benefits of social media go far beyond the sales leads from display ads and influencer endorsements.
In fact, many companies don’t understand the full potential of social media for their business as a whole.
Let’s look at some of these benefits that you might have forgotten or never knew existed.
1. Understand Your Competitive Performance in the Public
First of all, paying attention to social media activity around your brand can help you understand how well your brand is appealing to consumers online. In fact, one of the biggest social media marketing benefits is the potential for easy research on your competition.
Social share of voice
Finding out what brands are generating the most word-of-mouth consumer outreach can be critical to your success.
In this case, you are looking for organic discussions around your products and those of your competitors. For instance, if your beauty company has just launched a new makeup primer, then you can see how well marketing efforts are doing by looking for posts about it. Alternatively, you can identify a successful ad campaign by a competitor this way.
Discover hidden opportunities when comparing social performance in terms of content, frequency, and network
Are people looking for more information about your products and services? If so, then there might be an opportunity to do some content marketing that answers these questions.
Or, customers could be complaining that they don’t hear from you too often, or that you’re too aggressive. These posts offer the opportunity for adjustments. Finally, you might discover that your brand’s appeal is higher in demographics or markets you hadn’t thought of before, letting you nurture new leads.
2. Track Your Brand Health
Even if you aren’t doing much social media marketing, it’s possible to gauge consumer sentiments around your brand.
For instance, I know of someone who complained on social media about exceptionally bad customer service from a legacy brand. When she logged on, it became apparent that many people were having the same issues and that the brand wasn’t responding to complaints. Besides making a bad impression, they missed out on one of the biggest social media marketing benefits.
Here’s the thing: by ignoring social media the brand failed to compare themselves to other brands. They also failed to identify a disconnect between the way they saw themselves and consumer sentiments. The evidence? They kept posting ads which were tone deaf in the face of the complaints. Customer feedback clearly wasn’t important.
3. Research New Products
Keeping your eye on consumer conversations in your industry, you can reap further benefits.
For instance, social media posts can generate discussions around how a product might be improved. Consumer trends from other pages reap similar insights. This is one of the biggest social media marketing benefits, as you can send the info straight to research and development.
At the end of the day, social media is one of the best sources of information about consumer demographics and buying trends.
4. Connect and Engage With Your Audience
Social media is one of the best places to interact with your customers and audience.
In fact, many customers follow businesses and brands that they have an affinity with. This trend is especially obvious on Instagram, where 80% of users are following one or more businesses. You can message them and ask questions, or simply use a good social listening tool to gauge consumer sentiment.
5. Learn More About Your Customers
Another one of the social media marketing benefits is the opportunity to learn more about your customers.
This is important for several purposes, such as planning future marketing campaigns. In other words, the more you know about customers the easier it is to create ads that will appeal to them. However, some of these insights can be gotten through surveys and focus groups. Social media has some unique opportunities, however.
Discover hidden brand advocates
Chances are that you don’t know about most of the people who advocate for your brand. This advocacy can be as simple as mentioning that they love those socks you make. However, with social media marketing you can find these people because they interact with your content.
Discover hidden influencers that are already customers
As I have said many times before, influencers who are customers are some of the best allies you can have. And keeping track of who follows your brand is one of the best influencer search methods out there. Best of all, this works on most networks.
6. Learn From Your Customers
Advertising on social medial lets you gain customer insight from fan interactions.
One of the reasons for this is that people will often comment on social media posts. Look at the posts of your competitors (or brands you like personally) and you’ll see how fans respond. Often, they’ll say things like “I wish you’d improve X.” These insights are invaluable, both for marketing and development.
7. Educate Your Customers
One of the more powerful social media marketing benefits is the opportunity it provides for consumer education.
Depending on your product line, there may be people who need or want hints on how to use something. Or, they might be trying to decide which product is right for them. By advertising on social media, you can provide this service. Just as importantly, you can update customers on new product launches and company news.
8. Build and grow stronger relationships on social
Take a page from the playbook of B2B and high-end B2C sales professionals: relationships help sell.
As the saying goes, people buy from people, not companies.
This is especially true with items like equipment and real estate, but the same goes to some extent with more standard consumer goods. Statistics bear this out. In fact, more than 51% of marketers surveyed indicated that time spent developing consumer relationships have boosted their sales.
Need more convincing?
Think about the last time you bought something large, such as a computer or cell phone.
If you’re like most people, you went down to some retailer like Best Buy, the Apple Store, or Staples and asked a bunch of questions. You probably already knew what you needed in terms of functionality but might want to compare models. By talking to someone, you’re probably more confident about your choice.
9. Improved Brand Loyalty
Having a connection with your customers improves brand loyalty. Among the many social media marketing benefits is an unparalleled ability to build these connections. In turn, people are more likely to buy your products on a regular basis. Whether the purchase is though your website, a department store, or somewhere else, you will make money.
The numbers bear this out.
According to INC, Millennials aren’t just the biggest fans of social media. They’re also the generation with the most brand loyalty.
This isn’t a random coincidence.
Other studies have demonstrated that Millennials are 62% more likely to be loyal to brands which engage with them directly through social media channels. Thus, the linkage between social media engagement and brand loyalty is clear.
10. Increased Brand Awareness
Among the more powerful social media marketing benefits is increased brand awareness. In a nutshell, this means that social media advertising and (on some networks) postings are highly effective. Brand awareness building is relatively easy to do by targeting certain groups with the purpose of getting their attention.
Once again, statistics show that this is effective.
Among Instagram users, 60% reported discovering new products on that network. While not all the products discovered are right for them, there’s still a lot of new customers to be gained this way. Best of all, social media marketing often takes only a few hours per week. In return, 91% of marketers report that these techniques drastically increased their exposure.
11. Increased Inbound Web Traffic
Another way that brands can reap some social media marketing benefits is through an increase in their inbound Web traffic.
Even on the most basic level, a lot of people will Google a brand that they are curious about. However, different social media channels provide different amounts of traffic based on their functionality. In some cases, a user might need to navigate directly to the website due to a lack of direct linking, and you won’t necessarily associate the inbound traffic with that network.
Not all networks are equally good at driving traffic.
To use this feature of social media, you’ll need to select your network carefully. Facebook and Instagram are very pay to play, meaning that you will likely need to leverage influencers for organic feed traffic or pay for ads. Instagram also has limits on links, which emphasizes the importance of shoppable posts and coupon codes.
Pinterest, however, is very different. In fact, many Pins have links to the vendor built in. Better yet, it works more like a search engine than a social network. When people click through, you’ll be able to connect the traffic to Pinterest. Likewise, Twitter is a link-heavy network by definition. Users routinely click through links to get news and product information.
12. Generate leads and increase sales
Social media marketing benefits also include an increase in both leads and sales. One time this happens is when followers ask questions or seek out advice. When you respond to these messages, it shows that you value their business. Even better, it helps potential customers know which of your products to buy. For some product lines, this is a very important issue.
Once again, studies have demonstrated the truth behind this principle.
Social Media Examiner reports that 66% of marketers got more leads when they used social media networks for 6 or more hours weekly.
Furthermore, social media marketing leads have double the close rate of those which are generated from outbound marketing. Together, these statistics show that leads generated on social media are both plentiful and high quality. Best of all, getting them doesn’t take a lot of staff time.
13. The opportunity to find and collaborate with influencers
These days, one of the hottest uses of social media is influencer marketing. The many benefits of influencer marketing include access to the organic feed on social networks that penalize businesses. Facebook and Instagram are well known for penalizing brand accounts to encourage the purchase of advertising.
Of course, influencer marketing also helps to drive social media-based commerce through personal relationships. Much of the power of influencers comes in the affinity between them and their followers. At the same time, those who accept sponsorships are always looking for new opportunities. Having a social media presence facilitates these matchups.
14. Unparalleled target advertising that you can’t do outside of social media
One of the biggest social media marketing benefits is the ability to target certain consumer groups.
While traditional media allows this by selecting certain shows, magazines, or newspapers to publish your ad, electronic media goes further. For instance, you can pay for ads based on a consumer’s browsing history. However, social media is the ultimate in targeting capabilities.
Choosing a social network
This is more complicated than just deciding which network meets your demographic the most accurately. Rather, social media network selection has a bearing on the type of content you need for the advertisement itself. Some do well with video, while others are photo focused. Finally, some of the social networks appeal heavily to certain demographics.
No matter which network you choose, advertisers are allowed to choose who sees the ad.
This saves money on CPM fee rates. To that end, a brand selling certain hygiene products can specify that only people for whom the product is appropriate should see the ad. Alternatively, you can also allow for people whose profiles indicate they care for someone in that group to see it. This way, you get more relevant leads for your money.
The most basic form of interest targeting is advertising craft or hobby supplies in publications or websites dedicated to that activity. However, social media is much more flexible in this regard. Cookies and the contents of someone’s profile can identify appropriate targets.
15. Strengthen Performance Marketing
Finally, social media marketing benefits include the ability to retarget and refine.
Retargeting is a major force in internet-based advertising.
As any good salesman knows, presenting an offer more than once makes someone more likely to take it. Impulse purchases are real, but they aren’t a major driver of sales for all product types. Sometimes a buyer needs to do research before making a selection, for example.
Besides this, there’s the ability to refine your marketing approach. People don’t all respond the same way to advertisements. By tracking engagement with an ad, you can determine which ones work better.
The same thing goes with influencer ads: follower numbers and engagements help determine their effectiveness.
These days, more and more businesses are committing marketing resources to social media. But not everyone understands the social marketing benefits they are getting. Worse, some businesses are missing out. By knowing the benefits of these investments, you may be able to get even more bang for your buck.
Photo by Jenny Ueberberg on Unsplash