I’ve repeated it again and again on this blog: your social media presence is a two-way conversation. Yet, many organizations are communicating in one direction only – broadcasting a message to their followers, without engaging with the content provided by those followers.

To reap the marketing benefits of social media, you must become a user of social media, not just a creator of content.

It’s easy enough on Twitter. You already follow those who follow you (and your partners, and your sponsors, and other like-minded organizations). All the tools to engage with these Twitter users are right at your fingertips – you can comment, like and retweet with a single click.

That is, if you are logged into your Twitter account and reading your Twitter feed regularly. If you’re logging into Twitter only to post your own content, you’re missing at least 50% of the experience.

The same principle is true for Instagram…with one exception. It’s more difficult to share the content of other users than it is on Twitter. To share another user’s Instagram post, you’ll need a free third-party application like “Repost for Instagram.” It’s cumbersome, but once you start using it you’ll find it to be invaluable.

Facebook is a bit trickier. If you manage a Facebook page, you’ll notice an option at the top right of your screen to use Facebook as “your name” or “your page.”

It is imperative that you use Facebook as your page at least once per day.

By engaging with your constituents as a user, you add legitimacy to your Facebook presence. Instead of just creating content, you’re fully invested in the experience.

Imagine two similar social service organizations. Both post on Facebook daily. Both create relevant content. Both are quick to respond when their fans comment on their posts.

But the manager of one of these organizations knows to toggle the button in the upper right-hand corner and “use Facebook as XYZ organization.” She finds other pages to follow (like-minded local organizations, similar organizations in other markets, donors, community partners, news organizations, etc.). She reads their posts and comments, likes and shares. She boots visibility for her own organization (and legitimacy of its mission) by engaging in the conversation happening on Facebook, and not just pushing out self-serving content.

That second organization gets it. It’s using the full power of Facebook, not just as a marketing tool, but as a communication platform.