Five Ways to Unlock the Business Value of Social Media 385270

1. Identify your goals and objectives. It?s critical to understand what you are trying to accomplish and how social media can help you achieve results. This defines everything from the strategy to the software and systems an organization will use to drive results, says Accenture consultant Kelly Dempski.

See also Winning Business With Social Media

2. Think quality, not quantity. Too many companies get caught up in the numbers game. ?The idea is to have fans or followers who are committed and active,? notes Dempski.

See also Social Networks As Collaboration Tools

3. Build attractive, compelling pages and tools that provide value. Make a page or service eye-catching and offer value so that you will build a relationship. ?Social media is a two-way street,? says Barry Libert, author of the book Social Nation.

4. Think of social media as a new market research tool. Companies such as Starbucks and Dell Computer have reaped the benefits of social media through Web pages that foster discussions about ideas, products and more. Other companies, ranging from Amazon to Adagio Teas, solicit customer reviews and ratings of products.

5. Tap into analytics. Put data about customer behavior and preferences to use. Use polls to conduct market research or mine feeds and tweets for patterns. In addition, understand who is visiting your social networking pages and what they want from your company. These ?listening? tools can provide remarkable insights that lead to new products, services, marketing and customer service strategies.