There are 8 key categories of 42 Best Practices each to answer before any company wish to fully embark on using social media to connect with the public.

Senior Management

* Senior Management is interested in leveraging Social Media as a new marketing channel
* Senior Management understands that Social Media is a long term priority
* Senior Management is prepared to contribute to social media content development (blog postings, press interviews, etc.)
* Senior Management is interested in taking the feedback from customer views and other data to make changes in the organization
* Senior Management is willing to provide the resources necessary in order to get the social media program off the ground (budget, staff etc.)

Social Media Knowledge Level of the Company

* We understand which social media channels are available and which are the best fit for our organization
* We have a solid understanding of how our employees and executives are currently using Social Media
* We have read industry-based reports and benchmarking studies on Social Media
* We have attended conferences and networked with colleagues to gain a better understanding of how they plan on implementing Social Media
* We have joined Social Media peer groups to learn more about how we can leverage Social Media
* We subscribe to Mashable or other Social Media educational sites

Customer Engagement Level

* Dedicated online community groups (Facebook, Linked In, MySpace, etc.) already exist for our industry or product types
* We have a company profile on Social Media networking sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.
* Our subscriber list is growing among the various forms of Social Media currently being used (Twitter, Online Newsletter, etc.) and we know how large our reach is online
* We regularly contribute to online discussions (forums, blogs, etc.)
* We know if our audiences tone is positive, neutral, or negative on 3rd party sites
* Our audience (customers, prospects, etc) regularly make comments on our postings

Competitive Insight Analysis

* We have audited our top competitors online strategy, evaluated their maturity and have a basic idea of what they are doing with Social Media
* We regularly track our competitors (# of Blog Postings, Comments, Twitter Followers, Facebook Group Members, etc.)
* We monitor competitive social media changes and updates daily
* We provide competitive positioning information to our product management group
* We have joined our competitors online community and networking groups

Staff and Resources Allocation

* We have defined roles and responsibilities for people in our organization who are involved with Social Media
* We have a dedicated internal point person to manage our Social Media program
* We have consulted with Social Media experts to ensure our programs success
* We have an industry thought leader who contributes to our blog postings
* We have consulted with our IT department to get their input on technology selections
* We have developed and provided a training program to employees and contractors

Plan and Channel Selection

* We have created and presented a social media channel map which highlights how we will use Social Media
* We have a defined strategy with clear objectives, targets, initiatives and measures
* We have analyzed and prioritized our Social Media channel options and have consensus on which opportunities pursue first
* We have evaluated and selected technology solutions for implementing our Social Media program
* We have developed a project plan with timelines, deliverables and milestones
* We have communicated our Social Media plan to our employees

Process Documentation

* We have incorporated and integrated Social Media into our normal marketing mix (product launches, marketing plans, customer service, etc.)
* We have developed a calendar for selecting topics and organizing Social Media communications
* We have defined the frequency for updating our Social Media channels (blog, twitter, Facebook, etc.)
* We have a regularly scheduled meeting to discuss our Social Media program (topics, results, competitive insights, new opportunities, etc.)

Governance Measurement

* We have a policy to govern the use of Social Media with our employees, contractors, prospects and customers
* We use a dashboard to report on our top Social Media metrics
* We communicate the results of our Social Media program to Senior Management on a regular basis
* We have documented the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy for the Social Media applications that we provide

Author's Bio: 

Andrew Chow is a certified Life Coach, Serial Entrepreneur, Speaker/Author and Master Match Maker in Singapore. Founded IDEAMART (S) PTE LTD in 1994, Andrew won the Spirit of Enterprise Award in 2008 and the Successful Entrepreneur Award in 2010. Graduated from Thames Valley University, Andrew is also a Certified Trainer, Assessor and Developer under WDA-WSQ courses.

Andrew had more than 140 interviews and features about him or his business since 2005 from Channel News Asia, News 8, 938Live, Business Times, Zao Bao, Berita Harian, Today, The New Paper, My Paper, STOMP, FEMALE, HER WORLD, PEAK, SHAPE, Lifestyle, etc). Andrew was also the business coach on Effective Media Management for Singapore's leading radio station 938live - Positive Business Minute