Bill Mitchell

Bill Mitchell

Sodexo's Senior director of brand management

Sodexo's Social Media Integration program includes a presence on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, FourSquare and more; and maintains six blogs.

While 83 percent of companies have a Facebook presence, truly making a connection with customers is something that many companies are still grappling with, Mitchell said.

“You've got your Facebook page, you've started your Twitter feed, you have your youTube channel…now what?” Mitchell said.

Mitchell pointed to Starbucks as a good example of using Facebook for business, with people providing input (a special stir stick was invented this way), managing Starbucks cards, getting coupons and engaging in a real back-and-forth with a company they perceive as socially responsible and cool.

Getting your customers to get to know your company through social media can “make brand ambassadors out of customers,” Mitchell said. However, there can be pitfalls.

“Consumers are no longer passive,” Mitchell said. When companies venture into the world of social networking, they have to be smart — social networking isn't all sunshine and roses.

“Not everyone's going to be in love with you, and some may even want to do damage to your brand.” Mitchell said. “Have a crisis plan in place so when someone hijacks your Twitter feed, you have a PR person on hand who knows what to do.”