This is a question clients and would-be clients are increasingly asking and my answer to them – yes absolutely. However, having said that, social should not be seen as the be-all and end-all but as a complementary piece to an overarching, integrated communications plan and should not replace traditional media, face-to-face meetings, speaking opportunities and newsletters.

Social media should simply be seen as another useful tool in your comprehensive communications’ toolkit.

Importantly it does require strategy and should not be entered into blindly.

Firstly, determine if and how social media communications fits your current and prospective client base.  It isn’t for everyone.  If your consumers are older and more conservative, you might be better off simply having a well optimised and content-rich website and perhaps a blog. However, if you have a younger customer base who are voracious consumers of social media, the world is your oyster and the choices are considerable.

Ensure your social media presence protects the company’s brand. Who’s doing the tweeting, and do they represent the company’s social media personality? Are the posts on topic and in the company’s and customers’ best interest? Too much posting or not enough posting can cause the initiative to go bust. And nobody’s interested in following a deadbeat Twitter or Facebook account or someone who posts pointless, self-gratifying junk.

Develop a method to measure the success of this channel. Why spend all this effort if you can’t determine how it translates into new business or improved customer relations?

Where you have a spread of products across multiple customer categories, you may need to vary your social media strategy quite considerably, depending on who you’re talking to.

When it comes to which social media platforms to use, no one size fits all. What works for one industry sector or organisation does not necessarily work for another.  If you’re unsure about where to start, check to see what your competitors are doing and if what they’re doing appears to be working

Social media communications should be seen as a wonderful opportunity to find new customers while also keeping existing customers engaged by providing them with content which informs, educates and entertains.

While content is important, context is even more so. What I mean by context is how you deliver the information and the variety of social media platforms you utilise. For companies whose client-base is social media savvy, vary your platforms. If you’re writing a blog, it won’t take much to turn that into a tweet and to reformat the same information for your Facebook page or a media release.

Don’t for a minute think that social media is free. It isn’t free. To get a presence may cost nothing but to conduct a campaign effectively requires resources – be those in-house or provided by an external PR consultancy.