Many industrial companies got started with social media by having dedicated employees with social media skills experiment with various platforms—LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others. There might not have been an overall strategy or vision attached to social media efforts. Some social media accounts may have languished, while others stayed active. In addition, other people in your company might have opened new accounts: customer service started their own, an executive or two took to Twitter, human resources began recruiting on LinkedIn.

You can see how easy it might be to end up spread out on social media, with no centralized control or guiding strategy. It’s time to change that. With social media having established itself in the industrial sector, your company needs a unified social media strategy, a consistent brand and a relevant message. Here’s how you can clean up your social media accounts and get the most out of your social media efforts.

1. Perform an Audit
The first thing to do is take control by identifying and documenting all of your social media profiles, both official and unofficial. The easy ones to find are your official company page on Facebook or LinkedIn. But did you try out Instagram once and never return? Start a YouTube channel and then forgot about it?

Look also for unofficial accounts by performing a general search for your brand on all the major social networks. You might find accounts that have been set up by well-meaning employees or even by rogues and spammers.

2. Check Your Social Media Strategy & Goals
Once you’ve compiled a list of all social media profiles associated with your company, see how each one fits with your social media strategy and goals. Are you trying to build thought leadership, get the most followers possible, interact with customers and prospects, or generate engagement opportunities? Ask how each existing account fits in with your goals, and prune out the ones that are not essential.

3. Understand How Your Audience Values Social Media
How does your social media presence align with the way your customers and prospects use social media? For example, LinkedIn is the most popular social media outlet with 66 percent of engineers and technical professionals maintaining an account the platform, according to the IHS Engineering360 research report, “Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector.” For technical professionals researching a work-related purchase, Google+ and LinkedIn ranked highest in value of all social media platforms. Facebook, SlideShare and Twitter have the least value.

4. Choose the Accounts to Keep
Based on steps 1-3 above, you can decide which social media profiles you should keep active and which you should close down. If you have followers for some of the accounts being closed, you will need to notify them and ask them to follow a different account. Some social media platforms, such as Facebook, offer the ability to merge accounts and pages that you manage.

5. Identify Your Social Media Team
Depending on the size of your company and available resources, your social media team might be one person or it might be a cross-functional team of people. You’ll need to know who’s on the team and what role each person will play. It’s also a good time to determine login credentials and permission levels for the various social media accounts. You probably don’t want a free-for-all when it comes to posting social media updates. If you don’t have a set of guidelines for social media publishing, now is the time to create one, to help ensure inappropriate content is not publicly posted and that all published content is aligned with your social media goals.

6. Update All Profiles
Time to freshen up. Banners and backgrounds don’t have to be the same on every social media account, but they should complement each other and work with your brand. Make sure company descriptions are clear, consistent and offer value to your audience. Don’t just describe your company—give people a reason to follow you, such as promising tips & tricks, or a new how-to article every week.

Fill out all the fields on your profiles. Update bios and photos of contributors. Check all links to other pages (also check the links on social sharing buttons on your website).

7. Consider Using a Social Media Management Tool
If you’re making a commitment to cleaning up your social media presence and plan to integrate social media with your other marketing efforts, you might want to use a social media management tool to plan and schedule posts across platforms, track followers and monitor your results. There are a number of tools available to help you with this task, based on your individual social media needs.

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