Social media is a powerful tool that can help solution providers communicate to existing and new customers, extend their brand and marketing reach and create a professional and closely knit community. Ultimately, all of these components play a role in driving customer service and business growth.

Just throwing money and personnel at posting a Twitter, Facebook and/or LinkedIn page is not the answer. If your social media strategy is not closely aligned with your company’s sales and marketing strategy and does not contribute to any of these initiatives, then you are just wasting time, money and resources. Having a bad or unproductive social media strategy can do your company more harm than having no strategy at all.

Here are five don’ts when it comes to rolling out social media across your organization:

  1. Don’t Make It Personal. Whatever you, or your employees, do on your personal social sites should not bleed over to your company’s. Keep them separate. You organization’s social reach is there to drive awareness and interaction about your business, not about your vacations or hobbies. Your social media initiative needs to have an ROI metric attached just like any other deployment.
  2. Don’t Be Static. The entire point of social networking is the networking part. Many companies simply create a presence on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, throw some press releases on there and call it a day. Wrong. The beauty of social media is the easy access you have to existing or potential customers. Use that to your advantage. Create forums and groups and a have a community manager interacting regularly.
  3. Don’t Build It in a Vacuum: A successful social media strategy needs to permeate through your company. It should not be built by solely by your PR/marketing group or your IT department. Every organization needs to be a stakeholder in this initiative and contribute in some way, or it will not truly reflect your business.
  4. Don’t Give Away the Keys to the Kingdom: Just because you may have a lot of employees who are self-made social media experts in their private lives doesn’t mean they should have access to your organization’s online presence. While all departments should have a role in shaping the strategy, not everyone should be able to post or respond. Select carefully and anoint a community manager so there is accountability.
  5. Don’t Assume Good Judgment: In addition to your company’s social media presence, you need to remember your employees have their own personal efforts going on as well. Your employees are an extension of your brand and what they do online reflects your business. Every solution provider should have a social media best practices handbook for their employees with specific guidelines on what information they should or shouldn’t share on their personal social sites. In addition to possible misrepresentation or reputation damage, sensitive company information could be leaked. Without a shared written code of conduct, you are putting your organization at risk.

Social media is a powerful tool if used correctly. But like anything else, with power comes responsibility. Make sure your social media strategy is run responsibly and you'll have a greater chance of reaping its rewards.