WordPop is virtually attending a series of awesome social media seminars hosted by industry leader, Social Media Examiner. Throughout the series, we’re summarizing information to share with clients and friends. Here’s the first post, written by Alex Hodges, PR coordinator for WordPop. Enjoy!

Social Media is everywhere. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest. Even the once-hipster-now-main-stream photo-sharing app Instagram allows both iPhone and Android users access to the likes of Zooey Deschanel, Ellen Degeneres and Justin Bieber, as well as their family and friends.

Keeping up can seem hard, but it appears that for successful businesses, it is no longer an option.  We have only seen social media as a platform for businesses in the last two to four years, but similar to the switch to internet websites in 1999, everyone has had to join in and adapt.

There has been a shift in how various businesses reach new potential customers, as well as continuing to satisfy existing customers using social media. But just because a company sets up a Facebook account does not mean a company knows how to control a social media presence or even control and prevent crises.

Industry analyst  Jeremiah Owyang has done extensive research on how companies have both succeeded and failed using social media over the last five years. Owyang developed a step-by-step program to help companies stay on top of their social media platforms and use them to turn a profit. Using the model of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs found in nearly every psychology and business management textbook, Owyang has set up a pyramid of the necessary levels of social media success. Like Maslow, Owyang proves that if any component is missing, a company must complete it to reach the next step.

A company must first create a business plan for using social media, following this model:

•A company must create a branch specified for social media maintenance and expansion, and only allows an “anointed” few to have access to these accounts to limit responsibility for these accounts.

•They create a rulebook, playbook, and put a process in place to give employees a guideline and plan for posting as well as preventing and dealing with crisis that may arise.

•After they have a system in place, as well as a team in which to use their social media, they connect their accounts together to avoid duplication.

•The most successful companies allow their social media teams to grow by keeping track of their progress, as well as customer satisfaction, and allow flexibility to reach goals.

The end result is a company who successfully uses social media to both expand and satisfy their customers effectively and quickly, creating a way for social media teams to fix issues and reach customers in real-time.