Over the past several years, the power of social media has gone from being a tool leveraged by early adopters to attract early adopters to a widespread business phenomenon that has forced companies of all sizes to reconsider how they find talent, plan marketing initiatives, refocus research and development, and take part in more targeted advertising. While it remains uncertain at this point exactly where the cutoff point is on social media’s potential ROI, it is quickly becoming clear that this driving force of technology and community is not going anywhere anytime soon. Here are some ways that social media can help businesses thrive today:

Leads to More Collaborative Efforts

Social media, and various networks under the broad category, are incredibly powerful driving influences in collaborative efforts. By putting something out there and allowing others to comment, modify, and build on it, the potential for that thing to take off and grow on its own increases dramatically. For example, a simple video put out by your company may do a good job of getting the word out about something by itself, but giving your audience the opportunity to take it and modify it allows it to add its creativity and extend the potential reach of that single video. Remixes are extremely popular right now, and can turn a mediocre view count into a successful viral campaign by simply allowing people in your audience the ability to collaborate independently.

How to Use Social Media for BusinessesSocial environments also make it easier to connect with other companies and professionals that mesh well with your own. Collaborative efforts allow your communities to come together and grow with each other. No one likes to hear about a brand pushing others away and claiming every available business model for its own. Stories about collaboration and mutually beneficial deals are much more well received by potential customers.

Encourages Insourcing Instead of Outsourcing

Having to seek out talent outside of your current pool requires time, energy, and money. Opening up your business (or businesses) to social media allows your current staff more opportunity to get things done itself. This can even lead to the discovery of a perfect match for an otherwise difficult to fill position within your current staff. Chances are, everyone you work with has something unique to bring to the table. A more social environment allows them to demonstrate this ability.

Because social media is such a powerful technique for bringing your message to the customers and providing much-needed transparency in today’s corporate environment, allowing your staff the freedom to represent your company on social networks can fill several roles including: public relations, marketing, customer service, and word-of-mouth advertising.

More Departments Can Be Directly Connected with Clients

Connecting your staff with clients enables them to more efficiently handle problems as they come up. Especially in smaller companies, enabling your client to feel that they have a direct connection within the company beyond the traditional customer service number does a great deal more for customer satisfaction than a certain greeting or friendly voice on the VRU ever could.

You Reinforce Principles by Adhering to Emerging and Accepted Social Media Standards

The term “customer centricity” has been used in businesses (even ones that are slow to adopt modern practices) for years. The principal idea behind it is that everything your staff and business does should be done with the customer in mind. Bottom line, if the way you do business doesn’t center around the customer and their needs, you’re not going to last very long as a company. Saving a few pennies on a product or service means very little if I don’t like the company I’m working with.

Putting a more social face on your company is a great way to publicly acknowledge your commitment to serving the customer the way they need you to. Having their questions addressed and issues resolved on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and others gives them the opportunity to avoid unpleasantly inconvenient phone calls to customer service or trips to your physical location. In many ways, this is a win-win where you reduce the overhead required to keep up with a large influx of calls and your customer gets the satisfaction of not having to be inconvenienced even further when an issue arises.

Bottom line: if your company preaches its commitment to the customer, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be leveraging social media to make that happen.

Learn How Transparency Can Be a Catalyst for Loyalty, Morale

Given this chance, your staff will also most likely respond favorably to the empowerment that this provides. It binds the staff members’ personal (and professional) reputation to the company, which results in a vested interest in the well-being of the business. As an additional bonus, it allows them to grow their professional portfolio in a way that better reflects the needs of the future. If the thought of this empowerment worries you because it might tempt other companies to hire away your employees, just think of how much more likely they are to stick with you after you’ve entrusted them with what is sure to be a standard business practice in the next five years.

Attract New Hires, New Customers, Through Doing Nothing More Than ‘Being Yourself’

Because your activities and practices carried out through social media are inherently public, it makes it easier for new talent and potential clients to discover your brand, product, and service. People are always looking for a superior way to do something, or a better employer to work for. Through the actions of your staff and corporate pages, the public outlook of your company will be more appealing to a greater number of people. No one wants to work for or with a company that is behind the times, or not willing to try something new.

Taking these simple steps and committing to being more transparent, open, and directly connected with customers will have a lasting, positive impact on how they view you as a potential investment of their time and/or money. Social media, when leveraged correctly, can make all the difference in the world to how your business (or businesses) do in the competitive market of today, and beyond.