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Today social media networking has become an integral part of an average person’s lifestyle. The world is also fast moving towards becoming a digital society in all aspects. Social media is the ultimate equalizer. It gives a voice and a platform to anyone who is willing to engage online.

Although social media is a relatively new phenomenon; it is has in a short span of time grown to become an essential component of a firm’s marketing mix.In today’s markets it is not sufficient to just host a website about your business,but you must expand your online presence through social media platforms. Social networking sites such as Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook are minimum essentials for maintaining a competitive edge. Companies that do not have active social media accounts risk missing out on numerous marketing opportunities.

A key advantage of social media is that it allowsyou to interact with customers effortlessly on a public platform.A recent study tells us that 94 percent of firms today that have a marketing department make use of social media as a vital component of their marketing mix. In addition, 85 percent of all firms own a dedicated social media platform, which acts as an integral component of their marketing approach and as a result such firms have reported increased market exposure. With more and more people cutting across age groups embracing social media each day, businesses are in turn taking advantage of this trend and incorporating social media into their business-level and corporate-level strategies.

Tweets that are posted by customers gives a company insights into what customers are looking for. Social media gives customers a convenient and accessible way to express what they feel and in turn gives companies a chance to respond. With such platforms, businesses can view complaints and assure their customers that their problems will be dealt with.

The social networking nature of platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter generates interest among followers who are more responsive to them rather than a blatant one way marketing approach. Social media can be creatively used to advertise the products and services without making the customers feel like they are overwhelmed by marketing campaigns. Advertisements strategically placed within information posts are an effective way to engage. Social media spreads awareness about the business while giving a chance to constantly remind the customer about the products and services that they offer.

Managing social media from a company’s perspectiveis a cost-effective way to promote abusiness by using affordable social media marketing campaigns that strengthen and empower the company’s online visibility. Social media does not require an extensive budget, which makes it a level playing field for small businesses that are competing with larger brands.

Social media is a treasure trove and can even giveyou access to what the competition is up to. It provides valuable insight into the market and the various factors that influence it. On a personal front social media has evolved into an integral aspect of people’s daily lives. From sharing details about lunch to ranting about bad service, people discuss virtually everything under the Sun. Hence the inextricable link between peoples lives, their views on products that they consume and the impact thereof on brands.

Statistics indicate that the way people utilize social media and interact online influences their purchase decisions. With more consumers choosing to make their purchases online, their approach to shopping has also drastically changed. This makes it necessary for retailers to incorporate social media and adapt to the changes that have affected advertising and marketing in general.Social media sites let you know what is popular. They also provide a platform for people to talk about pertinent issues and their preferences. Social media was initially personal but has today extended to the business realm as well. It plays an essential role in marketing strategies by increasing traffic and serving as a part of your SEO strategy.

Businesses need to work on their social and networking skills and how they interact with their customers online for the best results. Success in social media marketing involves being strategic and innovative. Social media drives traffic with referrals and the additional advantage of taking up a considerable amount of time spent online. Marketers are hence becoming increasingly aware of the need to allocate time and resources to social media sites.

Transparency is probably one of the most disruptive and far- reaching outcomes of social media. In fact on the negative side there are a large number contemporary issues arising from the use of social media in business today. It involves identifying theft, which stems from rampant expansion and accessibility of the internet. It is a common problem in social networking because these sites do not have mechanisms through which people can authenticate their identity hence resulting in economic loss through fraud such as hacking, Cyber Crime & Cyber Bullying.

In conclusion, it is evidentthat social media is a valuable tool for a business at the market and the societal level. Social media hence has a positive impact on business, particularly for customer relationship management, customer retention, market research & public relations. Social media is not just an activity; it is an investment of valuable time and resources and a must have in today’s marketing channels.