Social Media News: 3 Ways Businesses Are Getting Ahead with Social

Your grandmother has a Facebook account (and has finally learned how to tag photos). Your dad knows how to use "LinkedIn" as both a noun and a verb. Your cousin has mastered the art of the ironic hashtag (#totes) on Instagram. This could only mean one thing: Social media is everywhere.

But the personal side of social media is only part of what's propelling it toward near ubiquity. Much is also due to businesses' wider-spread adoption of a variety of platforms – and their willingness to take risks and behave more like your (well-acquainted, well-adapted) friends and family.

Social Media News: Businesses Focused on Facebook

While companies are beginning to delve into new and different platforms (think visual sites such as Pinterest and Vine), Facebook continues to rank at the top of their lists, according to a recent survey from The Creative Group. In fact, 76 percent of advertising and marketing executives said their company has an active presence on Facebook while about half said the same for Twitter (52 percent), LinkedIn (48 percent) and Google Plus (48 percent).

And when asked what social media site they think has the greatest potential for business, Facebook took the top spot among a majority of executives. (See our infographic below for a full breakdown of the survey results.)

With most companies having an active presence on four or more social channels, what's next for businesses and their social media marketing plans? Besides needing more skilled social media experts to take the helm of forward-facing communications, here are three trends shaping the social side of business.

1. Utilizing user-generated content

Why focus solely on initiating your own messages when you can take advantage of all the great things your customers are saying about your company? Savvy businesses are encouraging customers to use trackable, memorable hashtags to tag their photos and posts on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and others.

This not only encourages third-party endorsements, but also leaves businesses in control of what content to highlight and repromote to their broader audience. (Note: If you go this route, think carefully about the hashtag you choose; you don't want to end up with a bashtag.) Want to get in on the action? If you have your hands on our coffee-themed Salary Guide, share a photo of yourself, the guide and your favorite coffee beverage with #SalaryBuzz. We'll retweet and regram our favorites!

2. Monetizing social media campaigns

Businesses aren't just earning brand awareness from their social media promotions; they're also starting to earn money. While there's no arguing the value of good old-fashioned brand recognition, proving that your efforts result in leads and, better yet, sales will help ensure your social media team stays intact.

How are companies doing it? To start, with a bevy of tools that help businesses – from the enterprise to the small shop – measure their output, track their followers and gain influence with the right audience.

3. Posting more selfies

Thought the selfie was limited to your personal Instagram feed? Think again. The way we see it, the corporate equivalent of the selfie is, simply put, giving a behind-the-scenes look at your company's inner workings. While some could argue the selfie is prompted by self-serving vanity, when done right (even in photo form), selfies can be honest, earnest and engaging.

When your company talks about itself on social media, posts don't have to be all about how great it thinks it is. What value does that bring to your audience? Instead, share useful, relevant information your company's friends and followers care about, like in our case, a post promoting how to manage creative people and projects.

How is your business making the most of social media?