by Jennifer Lumba | May 13, 2013
Business has become more social thanks to big-name networks such as Facebook and Twitter, which, combined, serve more than 1.5 billion people around the world. And while nearly one-fifth of the world is now using social media, many companies could do so much more to forge meaningful connections over public and private networks. Here are 10 specific ways to get started:
1. Cultivate Social Leads
Are you using your corporate networks to bring in sales leads? Why not? Develop coupon codes for workers to use when engaging with prospects over public social networks. Specify a company-wide target for leads that turn into sales and then reward those who participated.
2. Make Your Company an Easy Follow
No two businesses ever reach precisely the same audience, but the bigger yours is, the more likely to grow it will be. Use interactive tools to make it easy for prospects and potential recruits to find and follow you.
3. Increase Interactions

Avoid watching online conversations about your business. Instead, engage in them. Conduct an audit of your company’s interactions over popular social networks for the previous three years. Aim to exceed your annual average by at least 10 percent, and then measure what happened as a result. Did you get more leads?
4. Recruit Your Fans

Keep a close eye on your followers and those who most actively engage with your workers. Seek out those whose posts reveal an interest in — and knowledge of — the industry you participate in and invite the most interesting to apply for open positions. Track workers who are brought in this way and compare their performance reviews to those who are not. Do the social recruits do better, on average?
5. Identify and Market to Trends 

Public networks make trend spotting easy. From hashtags to search functions, all of them reveal what your target market thinks is most interesting at any point in time. Create systems for culling the key words and phrases and then design campaigns that promote your products and services in that same context. Track success and adjust on a quarterly basis.
6. Follow Your Customers
Place all those who’ve contacted you about products and services via social media into two lists: customers and prospects. Follow them via your corporate accounts and encourage workers to do the same. Make it a corporate habit to get familiar with what your customers like. Update lists quarterly, and publish changes to management and staff.
7. Create an Intelligence Mechanism

Outfit your organization with an internal network for easy sharing of ideas, links, and so on. Ask workers to be actively engaged in the system in order to develop a culture of collaboration and rapid response. Measure participation as a percentage of headcount, and reward the most active users in order to foster increased engagement companywide.
8. Make Sure Every Complaint Gets Addressed 

Set up searches that identify when a negative remark appears on the social sphere. Use your internal network to spread the word to ensure a response from the appropriate department or team member. Measure speed and success in turning around bad situations.
9. Brand Your Efforts

Just as you as advertise and market your brand in signage, in magazines, and other media, take active steps to brand your team’s social media efforts. Fulfill your promise to customers. Reach out to and support partners. Check for and keep a record of comments and compliments that reflect the positioning and brand you’re aiming for and reassess annually.
10. Regularly Reward Social Engagement
As with anything, you’ll be more likely to succeed in your efforts at increased engagement if you target and publicly reward top performers. Announce contests, and publicize and congratulate winners. Do everything you can to make it clear social engagement is a corporate priority that pays off for those who participate.

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].