Social media is of recent origin. It dates as recently as the year 2005 and owes its birth to the phenomenal growth of computers and internet in the preceding years. It is breath-taking indeed that social media has revolutionized the business world in such a short span of time. The speed of technological change and rising customer expectations are key drivers that are catapulting the growth in social media.

Facebook is the largest social network on the internet. It is the second most visited website in the world, followed by YouTube. With nearly 2 billion active users, Facebook is a valuable medium for businesses to connect with people throughout the world. Facebook also has a wealth of resources that can be immensely beneficial for any business activity. A company can use the Facebook platform to share photos, videos and important company updates. A company’s Facebook page can also serve as a go-to source for product and brand information.

Twitter also has a huge audience worldwide. This platform is ideal for business marketing as it is designed in such a way as to facilitate greater brand recall and awareness. It can also be an effective tool of customer service. For example, a company that maintains an active Twitter presence can connect with customers and assuage their concerns. Moreover, the feature that allows the display and organization of content by pinning digital bulletin boards can be useful advertising tool in a company’s armory. Pinterest and Instagram can also come in handy as they are exclusively dedicated to photo and video posts.

Snapchat is a visual social media network that is known for its disappearing content. The users of the Snapchat app can share videos and photos that are available for up to 10 seconds at a time and post content to public stories that disappears after 24 hours. A business can utilize the platform’s Stories feature to create story-driven and interactive content. The 1-billion strong YouTube is a video-sharing platform that allows users to view, upload and share content, and is also a hub for news and entertainment. Businesses can either operate a channel to market on the platform or partner with vloggers called YouTubers who publish videos and enjoy a large following. LinkedIn is professional, compared to its social media counterparts. It allows companies to create pages showcasing their businesses and users to construct profiles that are similar to resumes. As a professional platform, LinkedIn is the best place to post company information and job openings. Companies can also register their presence on industry-specific LinkedIn Groups, which would be a great advertising for a brand and draw people to a company’s page and website.

Live video is a fantastic medium for broadcasting events. There are many streaming sites and platforms, with Periscope and Facebook Live occupying a place of prominence. Thanks to the medium of live videos, companies can keep customers engaged with their brand by bringing events directly to their screens.

Messaging Apps are gaining in popularity. Companies are using messaging apps to communicate directly with customers, listen to their concerns and provide the needed assistance. These apps are scalable and cost-effective for businesses and provide an enriching customer experience. Social media ecommerce has also graduated into a powerful sales avenue, with the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram allowing the users to make purchases from within their apps.

Virtual reality is a unique emerging technology as it offers an immersive user experience to customers before they make the actual purchase. No matter, brands are quickly recognizing the value of VR in customer engagement.

Social media is an excellent means of introducing people to a brand. Social media pages that are constantly updated with news and developments project the brand as active and dynamic. Social media also establishes brand legitimacy as internet consumers tend to check social media pages before actually experiencing a brand. Companies can take a plunge in the online world by first opting for online company registration.

Business owners can use content and advertisements to target larger audiences, thanks to the power of social media. Social networks also facilitate direct sale of products. Facebook allows the business owners to set up a Facebook store with the use of apps such as Ecwid and Beetailer, while Twitter users can add products to their Amazon checkout straight from their Twitter feed. Products can also be sold on Pinterest, YouTube and other social networks.

Customer service has undergone a sea-change in the age of social media. A customer service department, a dedicated helpline, a website and an email address are going out of fashion as there is a time lag between the initial contact and the company’s response. Social media is the ideal panacea as it offers a live communication channel between both the parties.

Social media has injected a sense of dynamism into business relationships. It provides a platform for the customers to engage in a conversation and elicit an immediate response, while simultaneously being a great tool for companies to know their customer’s minds and take corrective actions.

Social media has provided unprecedented access to businesses and people who run them. While it was once unthinkable to go beyond a company’s reception counter, it is now possible to connect with the CEO by sending a LinkedIn request, tweeting a message and writing a post on a company’s Facebook page.

Social media has provided a new level of transparency in the business world. Our interactions have become less personal, but they have become more authentic as the days of separating work self from the real self are behind us.

To conclude, there is no denying the profound and long-term impact of social media on the business landscape, regardless of whether one is a business owner or a consumer.