How to Use Social Media to Grow Your BusinessSocial media plays an increasingly important role in business these days, therefore businesses should take action to ensure they use social media productively, not just to swap photos or catch up on social events.

Drew Hendricks, a contributor to Forbes, offers some tips on how business owners can “maintain their focus … and make social media use as productive as possible.”

Create Your Social Media Personality

Your online identity should be distinct and distinctive. “Your ‘brand’ is what sets you apart from others on these [social media] sites, creating a unique voice that makes you instantly recognizable,” Hendricks says. “That voice should match your business’s overall theme.”

Get Your Team Involved

Many businesses still discourage employee use of social media, but that’s a short-sighted policy. Hendricks advocates providing “rewards and incentives for those who are successful in winning business” through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. Not only will you gain new business, your employees will feel “as though they’re an important part of the team.”

An active presence on social channels also helps in recruiting efforts. Younger employees are social media savvy and use them daily, and are “just as quick to investigate a company’s social media activities as companies are to investigate theirs.” Displaying a unique online brand identity makes your business more attractive to these job-seekers.

Use Re-Tweets and Shares

It’s not necessary to continuously generate new content. When you find a post that’s particularly insightful, feel free to use Re-Tweets and Shares to spread the word. Choosing posts that you know offer value demonstrates a genuine understanding of your customers’ needs. “It may even begin a conversation that will result in a long-term business relationship with someone you admire.”

Engage Your Followers

Social media sites aren’t there just as a way to advertise your products. Get your followers engaged by getting a discussion going, by asking fun-type questions (“What’s on your bucket list for 2016?”) or questions that relate to your business.

“By asking what new products or services your customers would like to see most,” Hendricks notes, “you’re inviting them to be an integral part of your operations.” Customers will respond favorably, knowing you value what they think.

Don’t Get Distracted

A business owner is just as susceptible as anyone else to getting sucked into watching cat-dancing videos on YouTube. But you’ll get the best ROI on your social media activity by limiting your time to professional endeavors as much as possible.

Social media is fun but it can also produce quantifiable results for your business. That’s why, as Hendricks contends, your company’s top staff should fully understand how “social media efforts can help businesses form valuable partnerships that help win new customers and bring great opportunities.”

How do you encourage social media use in your business?