Most companies already know that job seekers are increasingly heading to social media sites in their efforts to find employment and learn about potential employers. Most are also already starting to capitalize on this new method of interacting with candidates. This trend is changing the way many businesses recruit talent, and recruiters are building more of a presence on social networking sites. More business owners and managers are embracing social media as part of the hiring process due to the large amount of job seekers using social media as a research method.

As social networking has become a large part of many people's lives over the past few years, managers have noticed that it is a distraction at work and have often set forth policies that limit the use of social media sites during work hours and on company computers. This is understandable considering all of the self-professed social media addicts. However, many companies have allowed employees to continue use of these sites for business purposes, especially for recruiting.

Where are businesses drawing the line? Many only allow their marketing and recruiting teams to use social networks in order to build brand visibility and draw in candidates, while some also allow their sales managers to network with potential clients. When properly used, social media can build a strong presence for companies and bring in candidates and consumers alike. It is also an important extension of your customer service, as consumers frequently air complaints on social media sites, and your company needs to be there to respond to them. (Complaints on the Internet often provide the best opportunities for positive public relations – if handled correctly.)

Since it is tough to set clear guidelines that distinguish how much time and energy should be spent on social networking, many have decided that hiring so-called "social media experts" is the most effective way to go -- so long as the position and its objectives are fully defined (Forbes, 3/20/13).

As such, companies are expanding their marketing teams to build presence on multiple social platforms for the company, as well as to interact with followers and stay current with emerging trends for online marketing. In fact, there is such an uptick in the number of social media jobs available that several job boards have been launched to house opportunities solely in this area. Also, a recent search for the "social media" keyword on returned nearly 6,000 open positions nationwide.

Forbes recently highlighted the increased adoption and endorsement of social networking tools by executives (Forbes, 12/11/2002), while a survey from the American Marketing Association showed that social media was the area in which organizations will increase their focus in 2013 – by 35% -- 10% higher than the next highest area, mobile strategies.

Most companies have some sort of social media presence, and the number is expected to jump in 2013, which means many companies will either revamp their policies regarding social networking, or may even considering hiring an expert to manage the company's reach, potentially tapping into a huge online community in order to boost business this year.

Reader Question:What is your company policy regarding the use of social networking sites?