If you treat social media like the Golden Rule, it can pay big dividends. That’s the message Likeable Media chairman Dave Kerpen shares. No, it’s not an instant waterfall of leads, and it won’t make up for poor products or dismal service. But being social as a strategy works. Here’s how: 1. Pay attention. Kerpen shared a story of abysmal hotel service on Twitter. Another hotel posted a sympathetic response. Where do you think he stayed the next time he traveled to that city? And his happy Tweets helped the second hotel build business. All because they listened, and responded. 2. RSVP! The second key is, yes, responding. If someone Retweets your words or shares your Facebook post, say thank you. If someone messages you on LinkedIn, answer them. It’s what we all learned as children about what to do when Grandma or Aunt Pearl sent a birthday gift: respond with a thank-you note. It doesn’t take a lot of time or effort, and can pay handsomely in terms of goodwill and subsequent business. 3. Share your story. People are hardwired to help. If you tell a good story on social media via webinars, white papers, eBooks and blogs, people will be inspired to share it and maybe even support your cause, which is how Kerpen and his then-fiance raised $100k from sponsors to get married in a stadium. This tale also propelled Likeable into becoming a multimillion-dollar business. 4. Be real. As Oscar Wilde quipped, “Just be yourself; everyone else is taken.” When you’re authentic and open, people can relate, and they’re more predisposed to doing business with you. Our company began in a garage, producing a single product: an absorbent material called XSORB. Twenty-two years later, we serve a global customer base with over 300 spill and safety products, but our business is still family owned and run. We think of everyone we work with and serve as family. 5. Give it away. Content is valuable; free content even more so. Help customers understand how to do their jobs better, and they’ll show their appreciation by choosing your products and services. We aim to do this at Impact Absorbents, with a weekly blog post, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn updates, and YouTube videos that demonstrate how our product lines make spill containment and spill clean up fast, easy, economical and environmentally friendly. We also provide links to relevant organizations and standards that help educate our customers and site visitors about hazardous waste clean up, workplace health and safety, risk management, and storm water pollution/management. Need information on a spill and safety topic not covered here? Just let us know! 6. Show your gratitude. This is an extension of Tip #2: say thank you to new customers, partners, vendors, and contributors via your social sites. People and organizations that are publicly appreciated are that much more likely to want to work with you again. Kerpen writes three thank-you notes every day. If a company chairman can find the time to do this, we all can.