We have two main approaches to using social media in business. First, we encourage staff to follow my own example and put themselves out there: publicly as Memset people, but also as themselves personally, and to use it to engage with the community both as an employee and as an individual. That is what I do with my @Memset_Kate account: it’s not a string of corporate promotional tweets, I talk about things I’m actually interested in, which happens to include the business.
I’m also a keen blogger and a number of my staff write as well. We have implemented a new Django-Python-based content management system for our website, so we can channel the creative energies of members of the team into content for our own website.
I don’t understand companies that are afraid of letting their staff “off the leash” for fear of what they might say. If your employees are really that irresponsible and untrustworthy, why are they on your staff We do have “official” company accounts on all the major social media networks. But to be honest, few people are interested in engaging with a company – they want to engage with individuals.
It’s also a real boon to us. Often customers who are unhappy won’t tell us directly, but may mention it on Twitter or Google+. We can then try to remedy the situation publicly, which demonstrates our flexibility and passion for customer service. We are a very open, transparent and honest company, so engaging with our customers and others in this way fits us well.
In summary, I would say that the benefits absolutely outweigh the risks. Indeed, if you don’t have a presence online then you are deaf to the conversations about you and that can only be a bad thing.
Trying to use social media as a company, however, doesn’t work – it has to be individuals.