This post is part one in a two-part series.

You’ve started seeing Facebook, Twitter and Instagram logos everywhere – from in-store placards to television commercials.

With so many businesses on social media, you may wonder if it’s time for your business to build a social media presence. Most marketing experts recommend that small businesses use some form of social media – but they don’t recommend it just to keep themselves in business. Developing a social media presence and using social media marketing and advertising can help you with several aspects of your business.

Social media can increase your exposure and branding.

With a consistent social media presence, your business will begin to develop a reputation for reliability and friendliness. Your social media channels can act as an ambassador between your company and your customers. You’ll be building up more opportunities for future engagement, and exposing your company’s message to the masses. Over time, they’ll not only be aware of your company but will also know what type of company you are.

Social media can shrink your overall marketing costs.

Running paid ads in print, radio and television channels can start to eat through your marketing budget pretty quickly. With social media, you have the potential of reaching an audience that is just as widespread but at a fraction of the cost. Most of the major social networks offer cost-effective advertising programs that will help you get your message in front of the right people – and you can always connect directly with your audience from your profile at little to no cost to you.

Social media can help you reach a targeted group of people.

Your small business is the right fit for a certain group of people. This target market can be reached in a very granular way with social media marketing and advertising. For example, when you buy ads for a newspaper you’ll be guaranteed that you’ll reach newspaper readers in a certain demographic area. But with social media, you can get a lot more specific. You can target your ads and marketing toward women between the ages of 35 and 55 who have children and who live in a certain area. Or you can display your ads to demographic groups that have liked other certain profiles (like your competitors) or those that have clicked through on ads recently.

Social media can help you get found on search engines.

With a social media presence, your company will be more visible to social media users and search engine users as well. Search engines look at several key factors when they decide how to categorize and rank your website for search engine results. Having compelling content and an easy to use site are factors, but social media presence is one as well. Through your social media presence, you can publicize your content and have more people visiting your site. Over time, search engines will begin to see your site as a great resource because of all the incoming traffic. You’ll see your rank for relevant keyword terms begin to rise, and you’ll get even more incoming traffic because of it.

Read more in part two of this two-part series.