If your company is still new to the world of social media– or revamping its existing social media presence– there are a number of steps that can be taken to maximize social growth. The first step is learning to communicate properly on social media, retooling and executing your message over a variety of platforms. The second is preparing and training your staff to communicate with social media. Finally, studying metrics and using social media tools to determine where your customers are going– and meeting them there. Companies staying on top of their social strategy have a communications edge over their competition with a direct line to existing and future clients.Opening Steps: Relearning to CommunicateSocial media is a virtual form of “open-air” communication, meaning even the best-crafted company message can be undermined with one misguided public tweet or post. Yet, proper corporate communication, regardless of platform, is as simple as remembering that your social media is an extension of your physical brick and mortar presence. Treating both positive and negative communications on social media the same way you would in “real life” reduces the real possibility of making a mistake.A second aspect of communicating correctly on social media is to play to the strengths of each type of social media to craft your intended message. For example, you wouldn’t use Twitter to communicate complex policies: it’s a conversational type of social media, and better suited for answering client questions and offering quick, valuable messages in the interim. Social Media and Your StaffIdentifying, training and encouraging your staff using social media is an integral part of a successful social media strategy. Not everyone is “plugged into” the social media world– some are to varying degrees resistant to it, at least as part of their work life, and finding people at different comfort levels is unavoidable at any workplace. However, by working with different comfort levels and moving your more social-enabled human resources to it, you can maximize results and reduce costs in sales and customer service, as well as other areas. Knowing how comfortably your team works with social media will help customize training and help each member use social media to your company’s advantage as a group.Mastering Your Metrics: Listening Using Monitoring PlatformsOnce a company has its team on track and communicating its message positively, it’s time to reap the rewards of that hard work. This means tracking interest and engagement– how much your customers interact, what are their messages telling you about what they want, and so on. A social media monitoring platform such as Radian6 allows you to “listen” to the web– with tools measuring not just response to you, but a wide array of “web listening” tools which allow you to see what your customers are looking for and what engages them quickly, helping your team craft a message that brings clients to you and increases brand loyalty.In the social era, customers are waiting to be heard. Knowing that the businesses they patronize are listening to what they’re saying ensures loyalty, and opens up avenues for retargeting based upon what they are interested in. In the end, social media has opened doors for sales, service and marketing to reach out to their customers like never before.