With all the hype surrounding social media, many small business owners think of it as a waste of time. But this could not be further from the truth.

This article presents five ways your small business can benefit from social media marketing, and why you should make it a part of your ongoing strategy for success.

1. Branding

One of the biggest advantages of using social media is that it allows you to improve your online brand awareness.

Let’s face it: unless you’re in an industry with an extremely techno-phobic clientele, your customers are on social media site.

By building your presence on these sites, you put your brand in front of potential customers.

2. Managing Feedback

The open nature of social media allows you to track what your customers say about your products and services.

An added benefit is that it allows you to interact with them to delve deeper into their opinions.

Since this effectively makes social media a free market research tool, it’s an incredibly powerful benefit.

By tracking and responding to your clients’ likes and dislikes, you can improve your support response time.

The only investment required is time.

3. Viral Marketing

The term is overused these days, but viral marketing only exists because of social media.

Voluntary sharing of great advertising that makes a campaign “go viral”.

So if your business has no social media presence, your chances of it happening are very close to zero.

People love to share great content with their friends.

If they love your product or service, chances are that they will be willing to share a positive comment within their social circle.

This is an extremely powerful form of marketing and can really help drive your business forward.

The important thing is to make sure that you have quality content that is worth sharing.

Be on watch for negative comments: they have a higher propensity to go viral than positive feedback!

4. Support Channel

We live in an age where consumers are more and more demanding.

You can use it to offer after-sales services. It allows you to provide direct support to your customers.

The flip-side of this is that people can interact directly with your business, and so feel that they are being taken care of.

In order to make the most of this strategy and avoid damaging mistakes, it is essential that your support staff is well-trained in social media, .

5. Cost

If there is a single reason why you should be using social media for your business, it is this: it’s cheap.

Virtually all the popular social media sites allow you to create a profile for free and use the system for business purposes without paying.

You only need to allow for a time investment — either yourself or paying a professional to take care of it — to answer your clients and create useful content for your followers.

Social media marketing is a useful addition to any small business marketing plan.

There are many benefits are associated with this form of marketing and, if done correctly, it can generate enormous impact on your revenue and brand awareness.