Social is more than just posts, likes and comments. It’s an extension of our world with opportunities for communication, discovery, collaboration and connection. As people and platforms continue to evolve, your business’s approach to social should as well.

Social media can optimize every aspect of your business. Top-performing companies are already expanding their social strategy beyond marketing, with departments like customer service, corporate communications, investor relations, product, research and development and human resources joining in on social decisions. Social media holds the answers to some of your most pressing business questions.

A graphic demonstrating which teams marketers say contribute to their organization's social strategy. The teams include customer service, corporate comms, product, HR and R&D.

Defining the possibilities of social

The use cases for social media are limitless, but in order to prioritize based on your business needs, you need a firm understanding of the three main social use cases:


This is the social use case you’re probably most familiar with. Branded social comes directly from a brand account. This typically manifests as posts, comments or customer support DMs.


Individual social media use comes directly from your employees. Your employees might repost brand content or direct message external stakeholders from their personal accounts on behalf of your company.


This use case is all about data. People turn to social media to express their opinions, and that information is invaluable for your business. Departments across your business can harness insights from social media to inform their decision-making.

Straight from the brand’s mouth

Branded social media content should be the first pillar in your social media strategy. This is your opportunity to showcase your brand voice and get your content out there. Think of this as your official communication channel–the way you keep your audience informed on the latest and greatest from your organization, manage current events or crisis communications and effectively answer service-related questions or address concerns.

Most companies have a good handle on their brand accounts. They’re most useful for customer care and marketing, but we’re seeing other departments start to post in an official capacity as well. Investor relations teams may need to share corporate communications and HR teams may want to post about relevant job openings. Your PR team might use your official channels to cross-promote media placements. Anything that’s best coming from the brand directly should be posted in this manner.

The most important thing to keep in mind with branded content is limiting access to brand accounts. Your social media and customer care teams should be the only ones using these accounts.

Individual outreach

The chances that your employees have their own social media accounts are pretty high. Harnessing the power of your employees’ social media networks can have exponential effects on your business. There are two major ways your employees can integrate their personal social strategy into your business strategy.

The first way is with direct messages. Sales teams can reach out to prospects directly on platforms like LinkedIn–and if they pair that outreach with strategic likes, retweets or comments, it can be extremely effective. If you have open positions on your team, employees can directly contact people who may be a great fit and build a rapport with them before the interview process. This one-to-one approach works because it feels more personal. Potential customers and recruits are a lot more likely to respond to a personalized message from a human than one from a brand account.

The second way is through employee advocacy, or encouraging your employees to post company content on their personal social media pages. Your social media team provides pre-written content for employees to share on their personal accounts. Giving your team the tools to talk about your business on their social media accounts can have an outstanding impact on your goals. Your employees also recognize that employee advocacy can make their jobs easier.

According to our research, employees already believe social media can help them with brand awareness, social selling, market amplification and internal communication. Providing them with methods to share benefits everyone.

A bar graph showing the different percentages of people who believe social selling helps them with brand awareness, social selling, market amplification and internal communication.

Getting insightful

We all know Google has the answers to any questions we might have. But social media can be just as useful–if not more. Your customers are already on social media brainstorming the ideas you need to make strategic decisions. You just have to start listening.

Social listening tools enable you to hone in on concepts and keywords to see what people are already saying. The possibilities for this data are endless.

If you work in research and development, you can gauge sentiment on your existing products–or products your customers wish existed–within minutes. In finance, the answers to questions about demand and pricing by region or demographic are waiting for you to find them. If you work in marketing, you can get real-time feedback on your latest campaigns. If you manage investor relations, you can use social media to communicate key business information to your investors.

Social media intelligence is invaluable and will become non-negotiable as businesses get more sophisticated.

Preparing for the next phase of social

As social media becomes more prevalent, leaders need to keep a few things in mind. First and foremost, social media is a skill. That hasn’t changed. But as the field matures, it’s quickly becoming a skill that everyone needs. As you start to incorporate social media across your entire business, you can’t assume that everyone will instantly get it. Social media training and upskilling needs to be widely available and encouraged.

Leaders also need to define the roles of their social media teams. As more departments start to incorporate social media into their roles, you’re going to need someone to bring it all together. Social media managers are key members of your team, but they can’t be expected to run social efforts across the company. Eventually, you’ll need a role to stitch it all together, like a Chief Social Officer, who understands social media and your business goals. That person can act as a bridge between departments and manage your full social strategy.

Social media is the best tool to optimize your business. You just need to harness it.

Want to learn more about the future of social media? Check out The Sprout Social Index™ where we dive into the data behind the trends.