Originally posted on MITX's blog. Businesses first began integrating social media into their marketing strategies to elevate brand awareness and deepen interactions with their audiences. However, tools and data-driven analytics continue to evolve and the possibilities of social media as a marketing channel continue to change. Specifically, for service-based businesses, marketers have begun to see how social media can not only help drive traffic and improve customer service, but also analyze the social media space to optimize on what's working, and change what's not working. By and large, here are some key benefits of leveraging social in the service-based industry: The New Customer Service Large brands like American Express and Emirates have mastered the immediacy of social media customer service. Leveraging the ease of response on Twitter and the open forum format of Facebook, brands utilize the channel to provide assistance to consumers who would rather not sit on hold on a 1-800 help line. One angle some businesses are picking up on is proactive customer service. Using social listening tools, businesses can open their ears to find consumers that need their services'?¦ they just may not know it yet. For instance, a consumer tweets about the long wait at Applebee's and Chili's can pick up on it and respond with a coupon and a promise for a shorter wait time. A consumer can post an image on Instagram of their flat tire, and Firestone can surprise him with directions to the closest service center plus 20% off. Morton's Steakhouse took this idea to a new level when they personally delivered a steak to a consumer at the airport simply because he asked for one in a tweet. The power of social listening is the surprise & delight factor. Businesses can provide customized service before the consumer has even begun to think about any brand in particular. Staff Activation Many times a brand's social media channel feels disconnected from the brick & mortar stores. The personified brand that is pushing out promotions on Facebook doesn't seem to line up with the guy behind the counter who has no clue about a Facebook promotion. By simply implementation a training plan for employees, businesses can change this notion. Companies can train employees to know what social media promotions are occurring, and communicate to customers to tweet/post/gram/share to get rewards. Businesses can utilize their employees to communicate offline what's going on online to not only increase social media engagement, and more importantly increase repeat visitors to the store. Local, Local Analytics Service based businesses may have all the data available to them, but they may not be using the data to the maximum extent. With evolving platforms like Venue Labs, businesses can look so much further than their brand-wide social media share of voice and engagement levels. Now, data can be looked at down to the store level to understand social sentiment store by store. Corporate level execs can look at analytics to see that the Super Cuts in Brighton is getting 10X more complaints about cleanliness than any of the other locations nearby. And at the same time, the local manager of that Super Cuts can see that one particular hairdresser is getting great feedback on twitter and should be rewarded for it. With the power of localized data, businesses can empower their staff to improve their own social sentiment and control their own social media efforts on a daily basis. While social media used to be a tool that was handled at the corporate brand level, it has now become a gateway for local store managers to increase their store's performance. Main takeaway for service=based brands? The ROI is there for social media, but it takes a dedicated team and resource investment first. Once a strategy is in place that includes integrating employees and a smart local analytics system, brands will see the return through happy, loyal customers.