For a while now, I've been looking at what a few marketing agencies, traditional PR consultancies and fresh-on-the-block digital marketers are doing on social media platforms. And it concerns me.

Why?

Because I don’t see much innovation – which, by definition, means ‘something new, and contrary to established customs, manners, or rites’ in the mix.

Hardly anything new or exciting. Very little risk-taking, and nowhere near enough authentic conversation. It’s often a case of same old, same old. Such a shame, given the huge, positive, amazing potential that such platforms represent.

Corporate, safe, sterile, anodyne presences.

I can hear almost hear the comments in these Boardrooms, as social media engagement is discussed.

Comments such as, “let’s get a Facebook fan page”, or “make sure we get the newest Agency account executive to pop some content on a Twitter account” or even “cut and paste the newsletter onto a blog page, that’ll do” – without first asking that crucial question ‘why’ which should underpin all social media activity and engagement.

I’ve even seen – horror of horrors – a digital marketing agency engaging in direct marketing via Twitter. A scam-based ‘campaign’ designed solely to get hold of email addresses for future direct selling. Awful.

I blogged about it here at the time, seeing as I was one of the unfortunate individuals to be spammed.

Here are six ways to use social media with innovation in mind:

1. Take an interest in other people – and pass on their content. It will get you noticed – the Law of Attraction. It really does work: these people will notice you back, in time, and reciprocate.

2. Take risks – be authentic, speak with your actual voice on social media platforms. Get the vibe of your business or Agency out there: let people know what working with you looks like, feels like.

3. Be real – don’t tell me about how many new widgets you manufactured this month, let the person who actually makes them tell their personal story. Your business is brilliant, but you have to get this story out there – from each employee outwards.

4. Be selective – don’t set up a Facebook page if you don’t have to. Select which social media platforms are best – it may be that your business or Agency only needs a real presence on one or two – and focus your attention, effort, and energy there.

5. Be unique – don’t copy what your competitors are doing: show your audience the uniqueness in your business or Agency, give them your biggest unique asset, your people. Get everybody involved, to tell their stories in a way which makes your business or Agency so attractive, natural engagement form others will follow.

6. Stop talking and start listening – too many Agencies (PRs are the worst culprits) are so busy shouting about how brilliant they are, and how many industry (navel-gazing) awards they’ve won, they forget the audience. Less broadcasting, more listening please.

These six simple steps, executed over a few months, will transform and innovate social media engagement for you. Guaranteed.