Tis the season to be thankful! While social media may seem like a drag on productivity or a “fad” to some, others are grateful for all that social media has provided the world. So here are 5 things about social media to be thankful for:

Free feedback from customers

Social media has become the digital comment card and suggestion box. In the early days of social media customers used Facebook and Twitter to vent. The rumblings from within marketing departments was, “Now I have to buy a tool to listen to all this?” Our response is, Yes! You get to listen to all this! if you do not remember the analog version of asking for customer feedback you are lucky. It was time consuming, difficult and often required coupons or discounts. Today people are posting and often expect the brands to be listening.

Open Communication

Not only are customers talking, brands have a chance to reply; Not only are customers talking, they are honest and open about their feelings. Many times I’m told that brands are not active on social media because they are afraid people will say bad things about the brand. Yes it is possible they will. My response to these brands is “maybe your product/service needs work.” You have a chance to address user issues and learn about how the public interacts with you. You want that uncensored feedback so you can improve your offering.

Quick Information Sharing

Need to tell a few million people something new and exciting? Post online and instantly it is available to everyone. Sometimes this can backfire and create a lasting reminder for the rest of the world but social media fails are preventable. One great benefit of this is flash sales. You can host a discount for a limited time and not have to announce it till just before it goes live. Another great use of this is for emergency closures or announcement. You can easily communicate your news and it can easily be shared to many more.

UGC

User Generated Content is not always a good thing or easy to get but for many brands, it never stops flowing. UGC doesn’t have to be videos or blog posts, it could simply be answers to questions you ask. How you use these bits of content is most important. People still want their 15 minutes of fame. A simple campaign such as reposting the most popular comments in a blog post will further engage customers. Not every person will generate content for you. In fact, users who create content represent the smallest group of web users. If you build trust with your audience, you can increase these numbers and build a loyal following.

Competitive Analysis

If there is one benefit of social media I find myself repeating time and again, it is using social media to research your competition. Each item listed so far is relevant to your competition as well. Read their posts, understand their customers. Find leverage for yourself. Social media allows for research on a vast scale with minimal effort. This is important for B2Bs, B2Cs and NGOs in every sector.

On another note, we at Icebreaker Consulting are all grateful for you. Without our readers, friends, followers, circle members, whitepaper/ebook downloaders, clients, partners, audience members, friends, coaches and advisors we would not be here. Thank you for your time and attention.

Read more: Social Media Has Opened Our Appetite