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Some business owners love the idea of using tools like social media to reach stay connected to their audience. But for your average business where the owner is busy wearing all the hats it can start to feel more like a necessary evil than an exciting opportunity.

In that mind set the only way to be enthusiastic about it is by focusing on the sales it can bring. Is it generating a return on investment, and just how quickly is it going to pull new customers in the door? We’ve covered the dangers of treating it like a chore and automating everything before, and to say that your audience can sense that desperation for sales is only a start.

The marketing industry has said for many years that your web site is your #1 sales person because it represents 24/7. It’s worth pointing out that the same is true for your social media channels, especially since not every person is going to visit a bunch of websites at a given point of the day, but that person may pretty reliably be on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Whether they see your brand (and what they see) will affect your sense of authority in your industry, trustworthiness, and show that you’re committed to those you serve. But you’ve probably heard that part before.

Here’s something you may not have.

Social media helps retain customer relationships.

That’s right. Beyond being a prospecting tool, your social channels are a way to stay in front of those who have already bought into your brand. People buy from those they like and trust, but they don’t continue buying if that feeling fades.

Ever bought a product or service from a company you felt good about, but it began to feel transactional and you never heard from them again? Of course — we all have.

How did that make you feel?

Our minds fill in the gaps with assumptions. Just like when you haven’t heard from a friend in six months and wonder why, and rather than call them to find out you start inventing reasons why they’re avoiding you. Next thing you know you’re feeling some static in the relationship over things unsaid. The same thing can happen in business.

Contrastingly, imagine seeing that company a few times a week sharing useful information, answering customer questions, and demonstrating that they’re staying cutting edge in their industry? What if they held contests and got their following involved in new services or the direction of the business to a degree? You’d probably feel like you’d found someone who gets you.

A strong social media presence reinforces all the good things people know about you, and helps prevent those relationships from becoming stale.

So instead of simply thinking of social media in terms of, “How many new sales will it get me?” also consider the value of maintaining good customer relationships. If it was a customer that might have only bought from you once or twice, but now has been a loyal customer for years, what’s the value of that? It’s worth something, certainly.