It’s been beaten into your brain over and over again that you HAVE to use social media to market yourself and your company in today’s business world.

I could throw a whole bunch of numbers around to belabor that point, like that Facebook alone has 850 million active monthly users or that 50% of all small business owners have reported getting new customers from social media. I could also tell you that more and more companies are recognizing the opportunities available and reaping the immense benefits of these channels. Or, I could break it down into three important reasons why you should make social media a marketing focus.

Before that, I’ll give you one more statistic: 27% of total internet time in the US is spent on social media and social networking sites, while 15% of mobile internet time is spent on those same sites. With such a vast network of eyeballs out there to consume your product, there are some major perks to focusing on social media in advertising. The Big Three (not LeBron, Bosh and Wade) are:

It’s free! Or at least cheap!

The major social media channels are completely free to use. Promoting your company to the millions of eyeballs on those channels costs absolutely nothing. While Facebook and Twitter allow more advanced options for a cost, having a company account is free.

However, it does make sense for companies of at least moderate size to have a dedicated person to manage their social media outreach. With the rapid dissemination of posts comes the need to respond quickly to customers as well.

It allows you to engage and interact with your customers.

A well-run social media campaign will generate not only webpage views, but plenty of responses and interaction from customers. These interactions can be great for your business if appropriately handled, but ignoring customers or mishandling their comments can result in a bad reputation and lost business opportunities.

Today’s media cycle runs faster than ever before. A sizable percentage of customers expect a response to their social media interaction within an hour of posting. Because so many customers respond best to word-of-mouth, having a vocal complaint from a known customer can do a disproportionate amount of damage to sales.

The results are measurable.

Using built-in statistics from these sites helps you track the overall reach of your message, how much your customers interact with you, and even how many of your sales you can attribute to your social media following.

Utilizing these free reports, even a novice at social media can see what works and what doesn’t.  By taking advantage of the analytical dashboards on sites like Facebook to see the results of their efforts in real time, companies can tailor their marketing approach faster and more effectively than ever before.

Because the benefits of social media as a marketing tool are so clear, there are more and more companies on each channel every day. By taking advantage of the various channels available, you can add a strong marketing presence to your company with a lower cost and often greater benefit than you can with traditional media.

Jackson on Google+