When it comes to social media, there’s plenty of debate about the pros and cons. While some people decry social media as an addictive time-suck, others use it as an effective business tool to connect with clients and potential employers. If you fall somewhere in the middle of the debate about whether or not social media deserves a place in your life, consider these top 10 benefits of social media before you decide to delete all your accounts—and before you judge those who choose to use social media.
1) Connections with businesses
If you’re an entrepreneur, it’s a great idea to follow and connect with businesses that are relevant to your industry. These connections can offer opportunities for collaboration, partnerships or referral sources. With a clear picture of how your business can add value for them, it will be easier to convince these businesses that you’re worth their time. And in turn, you’ll likely find yourself gaining valuable insights from some very helpful new contacts.
2) Free advertising
If you’re a new or small business, social media is an excellent platform for free advertising. It’s a powerful tool for letting your customers know about specials, updates and upcoming events. Many businesses use their social media accounts to announce daily deals or one-day sales as well. Facebook ads are another great way to generate interest in your company, especially when targeting specific demographics—age, gender and location. Facebook also offers many paid ad formats that allow you to promote your product across multiple platforms at once with no start-up costs; if done correctly, these ads can be a cost-effective way to boost brand awareness and gain more followers on various social networks.
3) Keeping track of your competition
It’s easy to get lost in a sea of social media, but there’s value in keeping an eye on what your competition is doing. While it’s good to maintain some degree of exclusivity and have distinctiveness, watching how other brands are using social media marketing—and which channels are working for them—can help you find ways to improve your own social strategy. Keep track of their posts, mentions, and activity; ask yourself why they would or wouldn’t do something; and create a plan from there.
4) A great way to connect with people you don’t know
The main benefit of social media is its ability to help you connect with people. Whether it’s for professional or personal reasons, making connections online can be a great way to stay in touch with friends and family. This can also give you opportunities to meet new people that could become valuable contacts later on.
5) Easy for businesses to interact with their customers
Perhaps most importantly, social media allows customers to interact with businesses in a way that was never possible before. Many companies use their Facebook and Twitter pages as a customer service tool. This can be very helpful because it gives businesses a chance to act quickly when customers have issues or concerns. They can also provide updates on sales, new products and more. Interacting directly with customers like this allows brands to create very close relationships with their patrons and make repeat business much more likely. Moreover, they’re able to do so at very little cost. Instead of paying expensive advertising costs that reach many people who aren’t interested in your products, you’re only paying for ads or messages that come from real people who already have interest in what you offer.
6) Free press
With social media, you have direct access to your customer base. You can give a platform for your voice to be heard and gain free press through social news sites and blogs.
7) A place to make your opinions heard
One of social media’s greatest advantages is that it gives people a place to share their opinions and connect with others, no matter how different they are. That’s a huge benefit in an increasingly polarized world, especially when you consider that while most people talk about politics online, only half do so in person. It’s possible to find a community online—and even make new friends—that doesn’t necessarily share your politics. Where else can you get such diverse perspectives without making a trip to Chinatown? Without social media and digital communications, how would your network be exposed to all those different points of view?
8) Build credibility and give back to the community
Many experts will tell you to avoid social media in your professional life, and if that’s what you need to do, by all means listen. But most businesses should use social media—and there are significant benefits for doing so. From creating a community around your brand and gathering feedback to spreading news about your company and building credibility, social media is an asset in any marketer’s toolkit.
9) Networking opportunities
When you use social media, you have access to tons of networking opportunities. Whether it’s making connections at local events or forming professional relationships with people halfway across the world, social media gives you access to a global network that would be impossible to achieve otherwise. That alone is a major benefit and an advantage. The fact that these connections are virtual makes them easier and more convenient than ever before; you don’t even have to leave your house!
10) Stay up-to-date on breaking news in your industry
Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit are constantly updated with posts about breaking news stories. These updates are like news headlines for social media, allowing you to stay up-to-date on current events without having to seek out updates from a variety of sites. Pay attention to what is going on in your industry so that you can be prepared for (and capitalize on) opportunities as they come up. For example, if you work in finance and there is a major market crash coming, it’s time to start thinking about how your business can capitalize on an influx of customers looking for financial guidance.