“There’s no denying that social networking has worked for some companies and been a flat-out flop for others,” affirms Barry Libert, author of “Social Nation: How to Harness the Power of Social Media to Attract Customers, Motivate Employees, and Grow Your Business,” and CEO of Mzinga. Libert adds that many companies are just confused about what social networking really is and how to successfully harness its power.

These companies don’t have to just give up, Libert says. They just have to change their thinking and develop different, better strategies. And they have to remember, “It’s not about technology … it’s about community,” Libert points out.

Before you throw in the towel on social networking, read on to learn what really works and how you can start seeing real value.

Build a community. Your company’s social networking goal should be to bring together like-minded people to achieve a common purpose.

“It’s all about connecting people who need to be connected, allowing them to become a part of your company experience,” Libert says. He adds, “Technology is important, but it will never be a substitute for community. If you want to see growth, you’ve got to develop a social network that helps people grow, engages their minds, satisfies their unmet needs and connects them to one another.”

Sharing instead of broadcasting. It doesn’t matter how frequently you update your company’s status or blog about its achievements if you aren’t delivering valuable information.

“[People] want to read about topics that are actionable and applicable–so we always make sure our clients at Mzinga are providing their constituents with information, tools and tips on subjects that are of interest to them.”

Make a home, not a house. A house is just a structure. But a home is a place where you feel like you belong. Libert maintains that is the difference between just joining random social media sites and then embracing and building a truly social business.

Followers, friends, clients and colleagues are really volunteering their time and energy to serve as developers, sounding boards and advertisements for your company. They want to belong–so let them and listen to them.

Barry Libert is an author, keynote speaker, and chairman and CEO of Mzinga, a provider of social software, services and analytics that improve business performance. For more information, go to http://barrylibert.com.