Social media is the Yellow Pages of the 21st century.

Except that you don’t have to pay for it, and the book goes to everyone in the known universe.

There are more than three billion people around the world using social media every month. If you manage to get only one billion to buy your goods or services, you can retire early and spend your days . . . on social media.

A billboard overlooking a popular outdoor park makes sense to you doesn’t it?

A sign on the side of a downtown bus too?

How about a plane flying your banner, “Get Crabs at Johnny’s Crab Shack” over a crowded beach at Spring Break?

Imagine now being able to fly your banner over a beach where a billion people are sunbathing and looking up at the sky.

Are you getting the picture?

Where are our customers?

The world of potential customers is fragmented more than ever. It no longer makes sense to try to grab the country’s attention with a 30-second commercial during M.A.S.H. Back in the day, you might get 50 million people to view your ad. Today, there are about 367 people who regularly watch network television. And half of those are asleep.

No one reads newspapers or magazines either. And they don’t read the sides of buses or billboards along the highway because they are looking down at their phones, tablets, and computers, mostly at SOCIAL MEDIA!

Here are the most popular social media platforms and their active monthly users:

– Facebook: 2.45 billion.

– Twitter: 330 million. Jump into threads and join the nonstop conversation.

– LinkedIn: 310 million. More than 50% of Americans with a college degree use LinkedIn.

– Instagram: 1 billion. 63% of users are between the ages of 18 to 34.

– Snapchat: 360 million. The most active users are 13-year-olds, for 30 minutes a day.

– Pinterest: 322 million. 81% of Pinterest users are female.

– Reddit: 430 million. 150,000 communities. With so many niches, there’s a place for every brand and business.

You can gain access to your segment of these three billion social media users. Why pay to advertise to the entire country when your market is mostly tweens or the adult diaper crowd?

With social media platforms, you can find your people and speak directly to them.

Here are 10 reasons you should be active in marketing through social media.

10. It will build awareness about your business, for free.

If people don’t know about your business, they can’t become your customers. Social media boosts your visibility among potential customers, letting you reach a massive audience.

And it’s free to create a business profile on all the major social networks.

9. It allows you to communicate your authority.

It will allow you to demonstrate your expertise as a thought leader in your industry—like writing pieces related to your expertise or expanding on your company’s mission. By showing what your business offers and values, you will establish confidence in potential customers.

From joining Facebook groups to answering Quora questions, social media provides ample opportunities to demonstrate your expertise.

By answering questions, giving advice, and sharing relevant information, you can show your leadership. Your answers to common questions will come up in Google search, as well as in particular social channels.

And new leads, impressed with your helpful information, will be more likely to visit your site and purchase your products.

8. It allows for the level of support your customers are demanding.

Quick customer response time isn’t optional anymore. If there’s a problem with your product or service, your customers expect you to solve it right away.

Now, instead of calling a customer service line, many people turn to Facebook or Twitter to solve problems or find information.

By giving your customers many ways to get the answer they are seeking, you build trust with them and that’s invaluable. Study after study has shown that consumers reward companies that respond quickly to their requests and complaints.

And your staff can much more quickly type a response on social media than take a phone call.

7. Social media allows you to grow affordably.

Marketing costs add up, and not every business can afford huge campaigns. But you can get a lot of value for your dollar with social media advertising. Your business, regardless of size or budget, has an opportunity to grow your audience and reach your objectives through ads on social platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

By boosting the right social media posts, you can bring in a lot of traffic at a fraction of the cost of targeted Google ads.

With boosted posts, you have a lot more control over when your message gets amplified, which means you can spend your advertising budget more strategically by focusing on the posts that matter most to your audience.

Through targeted boosted posts, you can send traffic via Facebook and Pinterest for as little as $0.12 per click. At the low end, that’s 10 times more traffic per dollar than you get from Google Ads.

6. Social media allows you to target your audience.

Whatever your industry, segment, and audience, a substantial portion of your customers and leads are on social media.

Sixty-eight percent of American adults are Facebook users, 78% of 18-24 year-olds use Instagram and 45% are on Twitter. Even among Americans 65 and older, 37% are social media users.

Social media posts provide an opportunity for the public to find your new web content and click through to your site.

And because those posts will primarily show up in the feeds of followers and people interested in your product, that traffic is typically very targeted. It won’t just boost your traffic numbers, it will bring in the type of visitors you want to attract as you are targeting customers by age, location, education, industry, even the things they like.

5. Using social media for business boosts your site’s search engine optimization (SEO).

Search engine crawlers know which pages are consistently earning traffic and which are just sitting there. Although your killer content strategy is the most important factor in your search rankings, driving traffic to your optimized pages will cause them to climb much faster.

A lot of times, this can be as simple as re-sharing evergreen content (of course, in addition to sharing your new content when it goes live).

Don’t you want to bounce your great content around the world?!

4. Social media marketing helps you understand your audience.

Part of what makes social channels like Twitter and Instagram effective marketing tools is the interaction you have with your customer base. By reading their tweets and status updates, you’ll gain insights into their daily lives and consumer behaviors, and answer questions such as:

– What products are they buying and why?

– What hobbies do they have?

– What kinds of posts do they love to share?

– What websites do they visit?

These insights have obvious marketing benefits.

When you understand your customers, you can write better content and more compelling posts, which leads to more traffic.

3. An active social media presence builds relationships with your audience.

You’ll build connections with industry leaders and influencers, providing great stories for reporters, top-notch products for promoters, and interesting topics for experts to share with their followers.

Over time, you’ll become more than a brand, you’ll become a part of a community.

And that comes with serious ROI. If you’re following social media marketing best practices, you’ll get a ton of exposure. That exposure brings in new leads.

Over time, those leads become followers, followers become customers, and customers become dedicated brand promoters, continuing the cycle.

2. A strong social media presence builds brand loyalty.

Brands with active social media profiles have more loyal customers.

When you’re engaging the public on social media, you’re building connection and rapport. You’re taking the time to provide your followers with useful information, help, and entertainment, without asking for anything in return.

That shows customers you value them, not just as a source of revenue, but as people.

Customers will begin to see you as an entity that cares about them and has values, personality, and vision.

And in a competitive market, that can make a huge difference.

1. Social media marketing will get you more sales.

Not surprisingly, when you stay in front of your customer base, they’re more likely to buy from you when they need the products you sell.  

You can also influence customer buying decisions at multiple points along the sales funnel, from amplifying the reach of blogs at the top of your funnel, to answering customer questions and addressing pain points, to incentivizing buyers with coupon codes.

Conclusion

Social media is the opportunity to have an extended conversation with your current customers and potential customers. You can tell your story, answer questions, deliver content, brag.

You don’t have to be perfect like with that 30-second Super Bowl ad. You can get your creative people expressing themselves and, because the costs are so low, they can take the time to experiment and find out what works for your company and what your audience responds to.

It’s a long journey, and there is a lot to learn but it’s fun, easy, and inexpensive. So, get started.

With offices in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, Ca., New Target provides digital strategy, digital marketing, web design, web development, branding, website hosting, and creative services for prominent nonprofits, companies, and government.