Are you using social media effectively?

If not, you may be missing out on an important channel for reaching your customers...but you're definitely not alone. Many in the C-Suite still haven't embraced social media in any meaningful way.

Last month, Forbes published its '50 Most Influential CMOs On Social Media' list, and the results were telling. Only nine of the CMOs on the list came from Fortune 500 companies, and only ten were from software firms. This is a troubling statistic for us here at interlinkONE and Grow Socially, since we stress the importance of social when helping our clients develop their marketing strategies.

(Maybe that's why our own John Foley, Jr. came in at #15 on the Forbes' list -- beating out big brands like Target, Visa, and social-savvy website Mashable. Congratulations, John!)

The C-Suite may be missing out on a major opportunity to reach and engage with customers and potential customers by not embracing social media. Their resistance is understandable: ROI of a social campaign can be hard to measure if you haven't set concrete goals. And social media's impact is often described in terms of likes or mentions -- intangible results that don't always appeal to the C-level's concern for the bottom line.

If there's one thing the Forbes' report can teach us, it's that CEOs and CMOs need more education on social media's real business benefits before jumping in with both feet.

To that end, here are just a few things social media can do for your business:

1. It can give you a leg up on the competition by letting you listen to buzz about your company and competitors. Social networks are rich sources of market insights if you listen carefully.
2. It increases your brand recognition and reach. By adding your expert voice to the conversation, you have more chances to reach customers who otherwise may not have heard of you.
3. A well-run social media campaign can significantly increase your inbound website traffic. Without social, the only people finding your site are those who already know about your company or happen to search for the keywords you rank for. Every social media post gives more people a chance to discover your brand and find their way back to your website.
4. Social media is a very cost effective marketing channel. With just a few hours of work each week, you can increase awareness of your company and products, without spending a huge chunk of your advertising budget.

Forbes did a good job of summing up why social networking is so important for CMOs of companies both big and small: "Social media has become a part of our world...Social media is how we interact with friends, family, co-workers, brands, and media."

That's why John and the whole interlinkONE and Grow Socially team encourage our clients to get active on social media -- and why we're active on it, as well. As John says of the Forbes' list, "...One of the mottos we live by is to eat your own dog food...or in other words, practice what you preach. This list is a great way to show we truly believe in the power of social media as a way to gain exposure and increase sales."

Creating an effective social media strategy and solid metrics to measure ROI can be a challenge, but the business benefits of a social campaign are well worth the effort.

Donna Vieira is the Vice President of Marketing of interlinkONE and Grow Socially. Donna and her team work with members of the print and mail communities to help them successfully grow and transform their businesses. Their approach includes online marketing plans, which include social media marketing techniques, as well as working to create Millennial friendly work cultures, environments, and policies. Learn more about Donna by following her on Twitter, @DonnaVieira, connecting with her on LinkedIn,, or via email,