Ask an expert: How can I leverage my social media presence

How to maximize a business’ social media presence to better engage with current and potential customers.

Although cynics might dub it a mindless vacuum, social media offers opportunities to engage with potential and current customers, manage brand reputations and more. Here are a few essential components for an effective social media strategy.

Engage in conversation. What you share and talk about with social media users is important. Content provides the medium to help you engage in conversation — and creating content that is truly resourceful and shareable can have many long-term benefits to your social media presence. Aside from blog posts, photos and videos, you should also consider sharing presentations, infographics, memes and even discussions (such as in a LinkedIn group).

Share meaningful content. If you’re just talking about yourself in social media, no one wants to listen (much like regular conversation). It’s only when you begin to curate content that is of interest to your followers and promote it, together with your own content, that your social media accounts begin to breathe new life. This will often come down to content that you might already be sharing with your current and prospective clients or customers on sales calls, in newsletters, or during informative webinars.

Join the right networks. There are currently more than 50 social networks with more than 10 million members. You can’t — and shouldn’t — have a presence on every single one of them. Deciding which social networks to engage in, and creating internal best practices and tactical plans for each of these networks, will form a sizable part of your social media strategy.

Post strategically, not constantly. With limited resources, you’ll need to decide how much time you are going to spend on each platform, as well as what you’ll be doing there. (This will help you to maximize your ROI for time and resources spent.) Believe it or not, research shows that frequent posting doesn’t necessarily make your social media more effective.

Interact meaningfully with customers. Every engagement with a social media user is a golden opportunity, because it can give you real-time feedback on what your customers are thinking, liking, needing, buying, etc. You can also utilize big social data to help understand potential future trends for your products and services.