Want to be a social media superstar? If your company’s presence on Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare is floundering, it’s time to rethink your strategy. Here are 10 things your business or blog should be doing on social media:

Interacting with Customers: This should be a given, but too many companies treat their social media presence like a billboard rather than a conversation.

Responding to Criticism: Social media is a great platform to practice proactive customer service — why not let the whole web see you going the extra mile to address a complaint!

Social Media Tips

Researching Your Market: Social media gives you great insight into who is using your product, how they use it, and what improvements they will be looking for in future offerings.

Rewarding Loyalty: Show your followers you value their support by offering exclusive online deals, coupons, pre-sales and more.

Connecting with Partners: If you’re not connected with the vendors and organizations you work with regularly, you’re missing out on free exposure to an audience that already has a compelling reason to do business with you.

Making Useful Content: Show your followers your company is about more than just sales. Think of ways you can share your expertise with others. For example, a hardware store can post short DIY videos to help customers with common repairs.

Building a Community: Brand loyalty is important, whether you’re marketing a soft drink or a chain of addiction rehab centers. Fostering a strong online community gives your customers something to identify with.

Finding New Hires: Using Twitter or Facebook as a recruiting tool? Believe it or not, this method really does work. Social media can connect you with people who are passionate about your product but may not consider applying through conventional channels.

Boosting Your Credibility: Whatever your business is, use social media to let people know nobody does it better! Be active in relevant forums and discussion groups and share your insider’s take your industry.

Encouraging Collaboration: We said it in our first point and we’ll mention it here again for emphasis: social media is not a one-sided conversation. Actively soliciting your followers’ opinions is an effective and free way of conducting valuable market research.

What NOT to Do: There’s no question social media has the power to change the way your brand is perceived. The problem, as the Financial Post has pointed out, is that companies are see social media as just of the latest incarnation of corporate marketing and communications. To truly take advantage of social media, your organization has to build human connections with its stakeholders.

One last thing: Don’t be defensive. The internet is full of trolls who will try and bait you, but it’s important to grow a thick skin and keep cool. Social media is great for promoting your brand but if you use it wrong you’ll wind up more infamous than famous. And if you think there’s no such thing as bad publicity, just ask Amy’s Baking Company.

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