The general idea behind social media for startups is to enable direct contact and participation via conversations, discussions or chats - whatever you call it - with your customers, prospects, influencers and more. Engaging in social media can solidify relationships and establish a more direct connection with your brand.

Few businesses and people have been able to effectively maximize the use of social media. A lot of other people feel itโ€™s just a medium to share pictures, gossip, banter and a host of many other trivial and unproductive things, but, hey, each to his own!

Social media is much more.

There are so many ways to engage in social media. In fact, a thousand and one ways but for the purpose of this article we would discuss but a few. With these added to what you know and your business strategies, you are guaranteed maximum impact with successfully engaging your clients, sponsors, etc.

Here are a few of a thousand and one ways to engage in social media:

Customer Service Relations

Once in a meeting, I was asked the importance of customers in an organization. One neednโ€™t think too hard for an answer to such a question.

Without customers there is no organization. Organizations exist for customers โ€“ no matter the organization, from church to mosque, from clubs to offices, and so on.

Also, if customers determine the existence of an organization then your customer service must be aim to be the best, above average service.

When handling questions to customer complaints, your customers deserve top notch service. In social media, you should have links to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), 'Success Stories' as well as testimonials.

Endeavour to acknowledge and respond to customers complaints quickly. In addition to being of service to your customers, you would need to know from them what would be of greater benefit to them, this is possible when you engage with your prospective customers and ask questions.

Crisis Communication

Your company should be prepared for exigencies.

Yes, unforeseen circumstances may arise but with a crisis communication plan, you could develop what is known as the 3R Plan:

Roles, Responsibilities and prepared Responses.

Endeavour to continuously tweet updates as well as respond to posts. When there is a crisis, create a Facebook group around the issue.

A command centre helps you even more. In cases of private conversations and the likes use twitter DMs. Write about the story and publish it. You could interview your customers after the fact has been shared and get their opinion on it.

Who says only media houses can share press releases? You have the platform thanks to social media, youโ€™re already 'in media'.

Effective Advertising and Marketing

No matter what you are campaigning about or for you have to be effective in what you are advertising or marketing.

Be โ€˜aggressiveโ€™ in your marketing. The idea is to be a go-getter.

What will it take you to get all up in the faces of potential customers? If on FaceBook, create an FB poll. Also offer discounts and promotions when the need arises and when you campaign ask for feedback.

Feedback in itself helps you determine how well you are doing as well as how best you could be of greater service to your customer.

Create a Foursquare campaign as well as hashtag around your campaign.

With Facebook being here for a while, endeavour that your campaign ends on Facebook.

Also, YouTube is great for sharing brand videos.

Learning is a continuous process. To get the best out of social media you have to engage and optimize your social media activities and boost your audience and feedback converting them from mere site visitors to real customers.

Content Sharing

You should aim to generate content in the form of articles, case studies etc., and share it with your audience.

This helps in making them understand that you have more than an idea of what you do as well as what you are talking about. You stand out as an expert in that field.

Also, create and share videos from events and conferences. With so many social media platforms available, judiciously utilize them. Also you can link othersโ€™ content in your own blog posts. No man is an island, but do attribute and give credit.

Developing your products

The emergence of new products comes with it the stress for new strategic plans to develop your new products, but then, social media has made a little easier.

You could have social media influencers test your products and then survey potential customers to get feedback.

Run a short promotion and share a limited time offer as you daily announce them on your blog and other social media platforms.

Competitive Intelligence

To be on top of the game, you should know what your fellow competitors are doing and endeavour to be ahead.

Get to know the number of fans they haveon social media platfoms, read their blogs and watch their videos as well as their slideshare presentations.

Know what keeps them in the market and find out other ways to be better. Find out the other social media platforms they are on. Learn where they are posting as well as how often they post, and know which of their posts were good enough to gain attention.

Influencer Outreach

There are people on the various social platforms that could influence you product or services. You could engage them by introducing yourself to these Social Media Influencers and then you could plan a LIVE Social Media interview (e.g. on Twitter).

Planning a webinar around them is not a bad idea as in doing so you indirectly are reaching out to their own fans. Make use of your Slideshare to post their presentations.

Use your podcast, badge and post videos of interviews. Finally, also link to their content.

There are a thousand and one ways like I earlier said on how to engage in social media. The list in itself is numerous. But to be on the top of your game, you must know what your fellow competition knows and much more.

Learning cannot be overemphasized. Remember the day you stop learning is the day you start dying.

Image credit: Chris Heiler

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