When two out of three Internet users across the world is active on social media, you don’t need much of an introduction to how all pervasive this medium has become in the last decade. The average American spends 2.7 hours every day on social media. Need I go on?

Most businesses today have wised up to the power that social media has to influence and build one on one relationships with users. Which means most businesses have a presence on the social media networks that matter to their users. However, in spite of all the ballyhooing about the medium, social media marketing is still limited to posting an update or two every day and replying to customer comments as they roll in.

The fact is there’s so much more that you can do with this versatile medium with so little effort. Here’s a look at some of the things that you can accomplish through social media that you never could otherwise.

1. Develop a deep understanding of individual customers.

Yes, I know that you already mine data from your social channels. If you don’t, you ought to start right away. Social media tracks every action your followers carry out and offer you rich demographic, psychographic and behavioral data on a platter. So, with social media you can trulyknow your users inside out. Knowing what media they consume, which times of day they’re active online, which other brands they patronize, what they do for leisure are all important clues that help you sell better to your audience.

However, that’s not all I meant by “recognizing” your customers.

Social media also is a great platform to shine the spotlight on your star customers and make them feel special. The fifteen minutes of fame that you can offer with a single post costs you nothing but tells that customer how important she is to you and cements your bond even stronger.

2. Influence their thinking.

The content that you post on social media is a potent tool that allows you to define the reaction you want from your audience. From humorous posts that amuse to educational posts that inform to emotional posts that connect, there’s a host of goals that can be accomplished with just a single post on social media.

The push for democracy in the Middle East labeled the Arab Spring was largely fueled by social activism. The Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS Research that swept social media in 2014, raised over $220 million across the globe. We know how social media was masterfully used to elect the first ever African American President the country has ever had. It also played a huge role in President Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012.

Even if you’re not running for the top job in the country, social media can still help you shape minds and change attitudes towards your business.

3. Co-create content on the fly with your customers.

Marketing till recently was a one-way affair. Businesses dreamed up advertising campaigns that extolled the virtues of their brand and published these ads across every possible medium that their users accessed. The hope was that at least some of the communication would be seen by the target audience, remembered by them when they make a purchase and would result in a sale. That’s akin to leaving the entire fate of your marketing campaign to plain old luck.

Social media has made sure that’s not the case anymore. You now have the ability to zero in on the right user segment, create a piece of communication tailored to exactly their tastes and publish it on their personal feeds across different social networks. No longer is the visibility of your campaign left to chance. It gets better. Thanks to social media, you can now go one step further and invite users to create content with you, giving them a sense of ownership in your brand and its message. Emerging social networks like Flyreel allow users and brands to create short video clips and string them together to create a single cohesive piece of communication.

4. Attract local users with superior geo-targeting.

Earlier marketers were forced to use “spray and pray” techniques in the hopes that their marketing messages would be seen by their target audience. Thanks to geo-targeted advertising those days are long gone. From geo-targeted pay-per-click ads to iBeacons that push messages to users’ smartphones inside brick and mortar stores, brands can now follow users wherever they go.

Apps like 7dayz empower the users even further. Users can now discover interesting stories from the last seven days published by people and businesses around them wherever they go. The visual nature of the app means businesses have option of sharing rich content with users at the right place and the right time.

Social media is like that forgotten pair of running shoes sitting at the back of your closet. It doesn’t simply help you run, it opens up brand new worlds of discovery with every step.

 

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