by Jennifer Lumba | June 10, 2013
While it’s true that nearly one-quarter of the Earth’s population is represented by the burgeoning social networks and communities found on Facebook and Twitter, that also means that billions aren’t yet using any of sort of social media. And that includes some businesses.
 
Is yours among them? If so, it’s time for a change. Don’t let security keep you off the social Web when your customers are already there and in droves. Here are 10 specific steps you can take to get started.
 
1. Identify Your Goals 
First things first. There’s no point in tweeting, posting, or otherwise announcing yourself and your company on the social Web if you don’t know what you hope to gain from the experience. Is it to win new customers? Better engage with existing customers? Unite a remote workforce. Write down what you wish to achieve and then be willing to broadcast your plan to the rest of the company.
 
2. Set a Strategy and Decide on Metrics
Once you’ve established what you want to achieve, assign a team to build a plan to execute. Then, define and publish the metrics you’ll use to determine success -- even if it’s just to start posting by a certain period.
 
3. Choose Tools
All too often, managers go straight to selecting tools. That’s a mistake. Any tool can be made to do the job of social marketing. What you want is the right tool that will comfortably help your team achieve your stated plan of action.
 
4. Schedule (and Conduct) Experiments
Having tools is one thing. Using them is quite another. Experiment with different tools and techniques for getting the word out internally and externally via social media. Document the results and seek best practices for adopting companywide.
 
5. Develop a Policy
Once you’ve had a chance to fine tune your strategy, set guidelines for how you expect employees to use their newfound social power. Are there certain hours you want your team “on” and available to customers via social feeds? Will you use social media for ad-hoc, online meetings? Do the hard work of setting expectations upfront so that workers know what they’re wading into when using social media at work.
 
6. Identify and Publicly Reward Power Users
As you roll out social media companywide, track those who excel at the process. They’ll be your source for best practices. Reward appropriately and publicly so that others might see the benefits of mastering the medium.
 
7. Train Frequently 
Again, tools only matter as much as what they’re used for. Identify and document common mistakes (e.g., accidentally posting non-public information) and then designate a team of your best power users to train best practices on a regular basis.
 
8. Determine Incentives 
Once you’ve developed a comprehensive set of practices and policies for using tested tools, announce incentives for exemplary use of social media. Don’t focus on results. Instead, focus on actions that are most likely to help achieve corporate goals.
 
9. Measure Results Regularly
Of course, outcomes matter, too. Measure what’s working and what isn’t in order to adjust incentives to match actions that are most likely to deliver top-tier results.
 
10. Solicit Internal and External Feedback
Don’t just measure numbers. Be mindful of what others think, especially those on the receiving end of your company’s posts. Take complaints seriously and adjust strategy as needed. After all, like anything, social media marketing is a continuous process, and as such, prone to continuous improvement.

Jennifer Lumba is the chief marketing officer of Rideau Recognition Solutions. Built on state-of-the-art technology, Rideau’s employee recognition and customer loyalty programs change the way companies recognize employee service and achievement, reward individual and team performance, strengthen customer relationships, and create brand loyalty. Lumba can be reached at [email protected].