Immediately following the invention of social media came one of the biggest game-changers in the modern business world: Social media marketing. As soon as companies saw social media for what it is (i.e., a platform where people can connect with each other over the internet on a relatively intimate level), they understood the potential that social media marketing had and was quick to take advantage of it. And they were wise to do so — where else can you find a global marketing platform where you can advertise, conduct market research, allow customers to quickly and easily contact you, engage in social listening, and more, all in one place (for free, no less)?

In case you haven’t guessed it already, here’s the answer: nowhere.

Social media marketing quickly grew in popularity and shows no signs of stopping because it’s extremely simple and wildly effective. Not only is the potential audience massive — an estimated 2.3 billion (you read that right — billion with a “b”) people use social media worldwide, and that number is expected to grow quickly — they’re impressively receptive. Social media has allowed people to make intimate and authentic connections with each other in a way that nothing else has before, and it’s allowed businesses to do the same thing.

A Personal Touch

Social media platforms have allowed even large companies to feel more personal, more authentic, more human. For example, if you have an issue with a company, you can send them a direct message on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or other platforms and expect a reply in a few days at the most. If you message a smaller company, you can often expect a personal reply in a matter of minutes!

The personal touch that social media marketing gives to companies helps them connect with customers effectively. Nobody likes a company that gives them the impression that it’s being run by robots or pretentious businesspeople who don’t have the time or desire to listen to their customers. Social media eliminates that thought entirely, giving customers the impression that the company is run by people just like them. And that small change in perception makes a huge difference to companies and consumers alike.

Boosts Small Businesses

One of the best things about social media marketing is that it is entirely free (or it can be, anyway). Large companies and small companies alike have access to the same global marketing platform where any company can be successful if they play their cards right. This is a huge opportunity for small businesses because it gives them the opportunity to get the exposure that they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to afford.

The fact that any given small business is one viral social media post away from receiving national attention and a slew of new customers is pretty exciting to small business owners. Even if the hype only lasts for a few days, a small business’ moment of glory can put them on the fast track to success, all thanks to social media.

Better Customer Service

Companies aren’t the only group that has benefitted from the advent of social media — the customer experience has improved dramatically as well. Because companies have access to statistical data that social media platforms provide, they can more accurately solve the needs of their consumers. Their customer service has improved due to an ability to more easily contact and connect with customers. Market research and social listening have become easier, enabling them to better understand what customers currently want.

Because companies offer better customer service, customers have a better consumer experience. Because consumers have a better experience, they’re more likely to return to that company in the future. It’s a win/win for both parties that never would have been possible without social media.

A Positive Change to the World of Marketing

These are only a few of the benefits of social media marketing. There are handfuls of other positive changes that social media marketing has brought, such as higher conversion rates and increased brand loyalty, among others, but the point is that social media marketing has been great for companies and consumers alike. Of course, it isn’t perfect and definitely has its downsides, but overall, most people will argue that social media marketing has done much more good than harm. In any case, there’s no denying that social media marketing has changed the world of business and marketing forever.