Designed to help us engage better and be more in tune with what’s going on in the world around us, social tools were initially geared towards consumers – with people tweeting about where they were and what they were doing, and using Instagram or Flickr to share photos of where they were and what they were eating (and sometimes you wished they hadn’t).

But now, businesses around the globe are exploring what social tools mean for them, and how corporate awareness, key messaging and breaking news can be shared through these channels. Although it’s still relatively early days for corporates in the world of social, many businesses are now posting timely and creative news, videos and photos to influence customer sentiment and drive interaction.

Here are the top social media tools we expect to take off for business-to-business (B2B) communications in the not-too-distant future:

Google+

There’s not a whole lot that’s new about Google+, but what is new is businesses using the Hangouts feature to talk to the public about industry news, trends and company news. The downside to a Hangout is that only 10 people (or computers) are able to participate at any one time. However, a Hangout automatically creates a YouTube video that can be placed on the company’s webpage and shared.

This presents a huge opportunity for corporate CEOs to get a clear message out to their constituents that makes the company seem more approachable. In addition, companies can host online user groups and forums with other industry leaders to discuss breaking news and trends in the market – again making it easier for their customers and the public to engage.

Pinterest

Many people are still of the mindset that Pinterest is for consumers only. Yes, it’s still a great site for do-it-yourself projects, fashion, wedding décor and more, but a growing number of firms are starting to harness the power of image sharing. Businesses geared toward consumers like the Four Seasons, Tory Burch and others have already mastered image sharing, but Pinterest is starting to make itself more friendly and easy to use for corporations with a more “professional” tone.

For example, businesses can create their own press room on Pinterest to share press releases, executive photos, infographics, demos and even blog postings. With an increasing number of studies showing that images and videos garner more engagement then plain text news, businesses can’t afford to ignore social channels like Pinterest any longer.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is already established as the “social networking site for professionals”. However, there are several useful features that many businesses are still unaware of. For example, LinkedIn allows up to three free backlinks per account that are open to indexing by Google. This means that employees and connections sharing posts related to the business can easily drive corporate websites higher in search engine results.

Naturally, with such a wide range of social tools available today, firms should always consider their goals and put a plan in place before embarking on a grand social media campaign. But with clear-cut guidelines and objectives (not to mention the support of an agency that truly understands this space), businesses are sure to have more success.

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