Social Media has taken the business world by storm and marketing a startup has never been easier with social media being the quintessential path to a cost-effective marketing tool. Most business owners cannot visualize the return on investment (ROI) through social media marketing and opt for more straightforward marketing channels such as PPC, email marketing, etc. While the benefits are not usually outright, sticking to social media marketing can avail many benefits in the long run which might not be so obvious during the initial few years. In this blog, we outline 6 hidden benefits of social media marketing for businesses.
1. Ability to Uncover Industry Trends in Real-Time
Since social media is transparent and out there for everyone to analyze, a business can take advantage of the real-time conversations of customers.  Hence, when a business analyzes its target audience through the transparent nature of social media, they are able to know what their customers are complaining about. Plus the trending hashtags and/or shared content gives a clue to the industry trends as well as anything that is all the rage!
2. Appeal to Gen X Customers
While your product or brand may be in business for years, but keeping the target audience age group in mind, the community of customers for your brand would change over the years. For example, a hip sports shoe brand might be at the top of its game but it has to quickly evolve as per the needs of its target audience. The age bracket might be the same, but the target audience has changed. The younger generation has grown up alongside social media and marketing brands need to adapt to this since the younger generation responds less and less to traditional marketing methods. Also, as the younger generation tends to hop from platform to platform, brands should also experiment with new advertising channels. For example, a few years back, Facebook was all the rage but in no time, a platform such as Instagram started garnering more attention.
3. Humanization – Brand Story vs Description of Product
These days, customers do not only care about what they buy but also who they buy it from. Faceless corporations are a thing of the past with the emergence of social media. In fact, as per an article, “social media has a 100% higher lead to close rate than outbound marketing.”  With customers having a direct means to connect with a brand, businesses are able to practice rapid responses and improve a product’s image continually. They also are able to tell their brand’s story. While traditional methods only fostered on providing as much descriptive information about a product as possible, social media empowers a business to tell their brand’s story which gives a more human touch. For example, Coca-Cola may only be a carbonated drink, but through its Foundation, it gives charitable grants to help the community, women and matters related to water. It even sponsors major sporting events and that is one of the reasons why the drink is favored amongst its customers as it shows the brand’s story.  Also, Dove is promoting kindness towards one’s skin as well as the planet. It is working towards reducing plastic waste.
4. Help Your Cause to Go Viral!
Some of the top viral marketing campaigns of 2019 include ‘Dream Crazier’ by Nike – a campaign to empower women in sports, ‘The Egg’ by the New York Times – to bring awareness on mental health, ‘The Best A Man Can Be’ by Gillette – to address negative behavior amongst men including bullying, sexism, sexual misconduct, and toxic masculinity, etc. These viral campaigns teach about powerful transmissions and instant emotions while attracting influencers and opinion leaders to a particular subject which then leads to an explosive hype. In some situations, it furthers a company’s intention of customer attraction and brand marketing to the more universally pertinent issues that shows that the company is willing to contribute to more global issues. 
5. Driving Conversions
There are some great ways to drive traffic to a certain brand. 
- Call to Action – Adding Call to Action motivates a customer to take a step further such as taking a trial, enquire about a product or ultimately purchase a product. It could come in the form of the cover page which directs the customer to your website.
- Ads – Facebook and Twitter allow a business to place ads directly on a target audience’s timeline without it seeming distasteful. The business can then link it to a landing page with a call to action.
- Giveaways, Contests, Discounts – Businesses can use creatives to announce discounts (with a code that can be availed by clicking a link), or contests or giveaways. Hearing about freebees entices any customer to at least have a look.
6. Your Army is More Profitable than You!
An online article measures how much further a brand’s message travels when being shared by its employees on social media as opposed to the company’s official account to be 561 percent! Also, according to IBM, a lead that is advocated by an employee’s efforts has 7 times more chances of converting than otherwise.  It might be wise to give the team members a chance to spread the word regarding the product and be your advocate.
These are the 6 hidden benefits of social media marketing for businesses. Do you want to add to the list? Let us know your thoughts regarding the hidden benefits of social media marketing through the comments section below. Also, stay connected to Alumni Insider and Alumni Alliances, a professional alumni network
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