Despite its relatively gradual conception, social media quickly exploded into popular culture once it found its footing. It’s been a while now since various social media platforms have essentially taken over the virtual world, and successful brands have had enough time to figure out how to use the medium to their advantage. Social media comes with enormous marketing capabilities for businesses, and achieving desired scaling results takes a decent understanding of its dynamics. We’ve come a long way from thinking that social media is a passing fad — it’s big, it’s here to stay, and it can be incredibly useful if you learn to harness its potential. Here are four fundamental benefits brands can expect from the proper use of social media marketing.

Improved SEO

The requirements for SEO are always shifting, but it still remains the most important way to direct traffic from search engines back to your platform. “It’s no longer enough to regularly update your blog, ensure optimized title tags and meta descriptions, and distribute links pointing back to your site. Google and other search engines may be calculating their rankings using social media presence as a significant factor, because of the fact that strong brands almost always use social media,” writes Forbes contributor Jayson Demers. “As such, being active on social media could act as a “brand signal” to search engines that your brand is legitimate, credible, and trustworthy.” Essentially, if you’re looking to rank high for a certain set of keywords, a relevant social media presence is nearly necessary.

Access to Customer Insight

In addition to its other benefits, social media provides brands the option to acquire key information concerning the behavior of customers as well as their interests. “For example,” writes Demers, “you can monitor user comments to see what people think of your business directly. You can segment your content syndication lists based on topic and see which types of content generate the most interest—and then produce more of that type of content. You can measure conversions based on different promotions posted on various social media channels and eventually find a perfect combination to generate revenue.”

Increased Brand Authority

Despite the growing personal disconnection in modern commerce, customers still appreciate interacting regularly with the people they deal with. This sort of thing is also a showing of good intentions for potential future customers. According to Demers: “When people go to compliment or brag about a product or service, they turn to social media. And when they post your brand name, new audience members will want to follow you for updates. The more people that are talking about you on social media, the more valuable and authoritative your brand will seem to new users. Not to mention, if you can interact with major influencers on Twitter or other social networks, your visible authority and reach will skyrocket.”

Lower Marketing Costs

“According to Hubspot, 84% of marketers found as little as six hours of effort per week was enough to generate increased traffic. Six hours is not a significant investment for a channel as large as social media. If you can lend just one hour a day to developing your content and syndication strategy, you could start seeing the results of your efforts,” offers Demers. “Even paid advertising through Facebook and Twitter is relatively cheap (depending on your goals, of course). Start small and you’ll never have to worry about going over budget—once you get a better feel for what to expect, you can increase your budget and increase your conversions correspondingly.”

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