Don’t waste your time on Social Media. Make your interactions count. Having a clear Social Strategy and policy for your employees (and yourself) means the difference between return on your investment and sunken cost and time. Before opening the floodgates consider these steps:

Create a clear policy on what type of social media interactions are within the professional area of your employees. For example, human resources, should be using Linkedin and Facebook to review potential new candidates. They should also ensure that the company listings are current and appropriate. A great example is Boston based recruiting company Hollister staffing, where they are also active in groups for seeking new candidates from the experts.

Divide time between monitoring, replying and feeding. Some of this can be automated, and the tools are improving for monitoring. Be careful to keep it authentic. Too much automation in reply and feeding can have a reverse effect. One company to watch that is doing some interesting things here is Stockholm based Springtime. They do the filtering and deliver to the appropriate expert within your organization.

Keep it professional: When on the company twitter account, posts should be relevant and of interest. Share articles of interest to show your keeping current. When posting news, always link back to company blog or website. Provide time constraints. Keep the talk clean, limit slang and avoid swearing. Jeff Bullas in Sydney has written several great blog entries about the importance of linking back.

Learn how to use social media as a resource for new information both pre-existing and that which comes from requests. Teach your employees to do the same. The more clarity you have in your policy for social media use in the workplace, the more effective your team will be. They will thank you for it and you will see the results.

It is helpful to always remember that social media and networks are tools for knowledge sharing in a dialog, not simply new media channels. The sooner you create a clear policy for use, the better off you and your organization will be.