Back in 2011, Jeff Antaya said: “Social media is like a snowball rolling down the hill. It’s picking up speed. Five years from now, it’s going to be the standard.” As we kick off 2016, we see that Antaya’s vision was spot on. These days, being involved in social media isn’t an option — it’s a necessity.

Search Yourself

No matter how much experience you already have with social media, it’s a good idea to conduct a search of your company on social media websites as well as a general search engine. This will give you an idea of what people are saying across several platforms including popular social media platforms, as well as review sites.

When reading your reviews, resist the temptation to ignore negative reviews. Negative reviews can be hard to read sometimes, but these offer the greatest insights into what you need to fix. Try to determine what people are complaining about and see if it’s something you can fix. If customers complain about late delivery or backorders, examine your inventory management. If, on the other hand, the products and delivery are great but follow up services fall flat, consult with your customer service team to see how things can be improved.

Be an involved Expert

Join Question & Answer forums on LinkedIn, host live chats through Twitter and engage actively with customers who post and mention you on Facebook. Remain active on any social media channels you use, even if that means limiting the sites you use. It’s better to be active and engaged on one or two websites as opposed to present but inactive across the board.

Establish, Maintain and Regularly Review Your Schedule

Set up a social media schedule that makes sense for the team you have — not the team you think you’ll have in a few years. Starting small on the social media scene offers you a few advantages. First it ensures you don’t spread yourself too thin. Second, it gives you plenty of wiggle room to work the kinks out of your schedule. Finally, it allows for you to make a few mistakes along the way — something that’s unavoidable when just starting out.

Whether you’re just starting to experiment with social media or you have some experience behind you, taking a social media inventory is a great way to see where you are now and determine your best next steps. Taking stock of your social media inventory not only gives you a snapshot of where you stand today — it helps you more effectively plan for the future.