Many businesses struggle with the concept of social media and how to utilize it effectively inside their business. Even more challenging for most is to understand how they can maintain compliance over the information that is disseminated via social media.

The first step is always to have policies or guidance around what the business is trying to achieve. This is the standard to which all communications should be held up to and guidance for how things like social media should be used. The next item to consider is what channels the business will use to communicate publically. There are many different social media channels available but remember they all don’t have to be used immediately. It may however be important to grab the social media account that matches the business even if it is not used initially.

The secret is to understand the target audience with social media. Why do they use that form of communication and what are they looking for when using it? Services like YouTube provide a very effective way for businesses to get their message across, simply because video is much easier to absorb for the audience. However, whatever social media channels a business uses they need to reflect the ‘essential’ character and values of that business, otherwise they become like traditional advertising mediums.

Beyond the pubic social media tools like Twitter and Facebook there is also a growing use of social networking within a business. The best example of this is probably Yammer that Microsoft has now incorporated into Office 365. The advantages that Yammer provides a business is that all the information remains within the direct control of the business. Not only does this provided better compliance but it also means that the information remains easily accessible using something like search.

The ability to retain good staff means that you need to provide them with the tools they are familiar with to allow them to do their jobs. For many, social networking rather than email is the tool of choice when it comes to communication. Rather than shunning these tools smart businesses are looking to understand how they can be incorporated effectively into their business. They see social media as an asset rather than a distraction. They understand that the secret to social media is understanding first.