by Jennifer Lumba | February 28, 2013
For social media, 2012 was a breakthrough year.
 
Facebook’s May initial public offering took the company public at $100 billion. Google passed more than 100 million active users for Google+ and introduced a new organizing feature called Communities. Pinterest passed Yahoo! to become the fourth-largest traffic driver for blogs and other websites.
 
We’ve also changed our habits to accommodate our social media addictions. Roughly one-third of younger workers now see fit to share during bathroom breaks — yes, bathroom breaks. The point? Conversations that matter to you are occurring 24 hours a day. You’re either participating or you aren’t.
 
Of course, some conversations aren’t worth participating in. How can you use public and homegrown social networks to tell a story that’s compelling to customers, partners, and outsiders? Here are 10 ideas. Think of them as resolutions worth making, and keeping:
 
1. Toss the Policy, Establish Guidelines
Social media is an informal medium. Treat it as such. Allow workers to express themselves but offer some guidelines for how to talk online about work. And yes, do state the obvious: no sharing of company secrets. Hints are good; giveaways are bad.
 
2. Set a Tone 

Every company has a voice. Let managers lead in this area and use the corporate social media accounts to reinforce this style. Repost bits from employees who have similar tone and tenor.
 
3. Establish a Schedule 
Predictability is key. Let those who follow your feeds know when they should be checking what you have to say.
 
4. Engagement Above All 

Never just post. Engage. Start conversations with employees, partners, customers and even competitors. Create contests. Ask questions. Take positions. Be someone worth listening to.
 
5. Influence Over Size
Follower counts matter but influence matters more. Follow and start talking with your market's leaders and leading thinkers that participate in social media. Reply to them. Send open questions. Suggest a live chat and invite employees. Grow your influence by engaging with those who already have it.
 
6. Diversify

Don't post the same content to every feed. That's broadcasting. Use different networks for different purposes while keeping the message intact. For example: Post pictures of a company meeting to Pinterest while posting snippets of overheard conversations to Google+.
 
7. Use More Video
A social media post needn't be limited to text. Create a video and share the link across your in-house and public networks as appropriate. Post to YouTube if your privacy policy permits.
 
8. Don't Just Post; Write 
Social media feeds are snippets. Use a blog to flesh out thoughts that can't be expressed in a few hundred characters, which you can then point to in your feeds. Highlight interesting comments from readers.
 
9. Use More Audio

Let your voice be heard, literally. Giving readers a multimedia taste of your style (i.e., via video, text, and audio) will help them get to know you better, and in turn, increase your opportunity to engage meaningfully.
 
10. Be a Platform Rather Than a Mouthpiece

You're establishing a persona with your social media feeds. Act like it. Cultivate friends, take positions, and stand firm when you must. Don't be afraid to be controversial. Worry more about being uninteresting.

Jennifer Lumba is the chief marketing officer of Rideau Recognition Solutions (www.rideau.com). 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].