A lot has changed in the social media space over the last few years. Social media channels have rapidly evolved and changed the ways that businesses and marketers generate leads and target new customers. Companies are now looking at Facebook, Twitter and YouTube as the de facto standard to start building their presence on the internet.

Though in 2012 most people realized that social media is an effective marketing tool, but maybe there are still some doubters. If you are not sure how social media marketing can benefit you and your business? Check out this list of reasons why you should be marketing through social media in 2013:

Aides branding and awareness:
Social media and Branding seem to go together so well. Social media can serve as a gigantic megaphone for your brand. Regardless what your business does, your mission is always to become a recognized authority in your field. And to become an authority, you must demonstrate your competency, your authenticity and your undisputed credibility. Social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube can give you and your company a golden opportunity to get your messages across to large population of users on social networks.

When a social media user reads your message and the name of your company, there ought to be promptly an image of your brand in his or her mind. As a marketer, your job is to paint that picture, to make absolutely sure that the image is positive and relevant to the target audience. Don’t forget that social media has the power to turn a message into a viral marketing campaign.

Builds community:
Social media can help you to build a loyal community of people who share the same interests. Building a community and creating value for the community helps in supporting and growing your business. This also aids in building stronger relationships with prospects, and converting those prospects into Brand advocates.

Note: Community doesn't build overnight. It takes time to build strong relationships that will help you manage a community. Those relationships are built on a lot of trust, and that trust builds when you are both reliable and transparent. Today’s social media users are very smart, and they can smell a fake from miles away. When they uncover your true intentions, there's no repairing those relationships that have been destroyed.

Provides customer service opportunities:
The quality of your customer service has a direct effect on your current and potential customers. It is critical to keep your current customers happy and show potential customers how well you do business. Social media provides your business a channel to achieve both.

Those days are gone when customers used to write letters of complaint. Now social media is where many of your customers are, and social is their preferred method of communicating. Thus, your company needs to evolve and integrate social media into your existing customer service strategy.

Offers direct sales opportunities:
In last few years, what many companies realized, is that you can actually drive direct sales from social media provided there is a right strategy in place. For example: 50% of Pinterest users have children and 80% of users are women, which makes it a perfect place for marketers to promote fashion and baby care related products or services.
According to a study, 34% of marketers have generated leads using Twitter. Social media allows you target ads based on specific demographics, age-groups, interests, etc. which can lead to direct sales in addition to the more traditional networking and brand-building functions.

Tip: Don’t use social media only for broadcasting—to attract, retain, up-sell, and cross-sell. But also include social listening in your social media marketing strategy —to identify new sales opportunities.

Are you using social media for your business? What have your experiences been? Please add your thoughts in the comments section below.

Author's Bio: 

Ali Liaquat is a digital marketing adventurist, University of Wales alumni, and works at dinCloud (http://www.dinCloud.com). Follow him on Twitter at @a_liaquat.