Some of my friends and colleagues in a number of organizations have continued to ask me about using social media, and specifically Twitter, in real ways that actually help the organization fulfill its mission.

As I said in a recent post, executives don’t need fancy, shiny tools that are neat — they need things that work and add value.

Rachel Reuben, writing at Amber Naslund’s Altitude Branding blog, recently touched on some important things to keep in mind for any organization implementing a “Twitter strategy.” (Andrea Jarrell pointed the piece out to me.)

This important idea is simple: Make sure you are backing up in the real world what you are doing in the online media space.

Rachel writes:

Imagine what the world would be like if real-life was like our Twitter world. You’d go to a grocery store and there’d actually be a real-life bagger, and s/he would ask if they could bring your groceries to the car for you. (Oh wait, that does exist at Publix in Florida.) You’d go into a Wal-Mart, where everyone has aprons that say “how can I help you?” and they actually would, instead of nervously avoiding eye contact and running away from you when you can’t find something in their behemoth of a store. You’d sit in on a committee meeting at work and offer to help with the next task at hand, and everyone in the room jumps at the chance to help as well. You walk into a packed auditorium and ask if anyone knows how to fix your broken Facebook application, and half the crowd stands up and shouts the answer to fix it.

In reality, most grocery stores I frequent don’t have baggers, would never offer to help bring groceries to your car, and are never around when you need help finding something. Committees tend to be filled with naysayers and difficult individuals who aren’t there to really contribute much.

But… what if they did? What if Comcast repair technicians were all as helpful as Frank Eliason is on Twitter (@comcastcares)? . . .  What if every single employee at Home Depot responded as quickly and kindly as @thehomedepot does — including follow-ups 24 hours later? Do these companies have the same inward culture as they appear with their Twitter personas?

If you’re representing your company/business/brand on Twitter — are you being helpful? Or, are you just “listening” and there for damage control? Excellent customer service is still the foundation of solid business success, and Twitter provides the perfect way to expand your customer service initiatives into this space. If you’re helpful on Twitter, that will build a strong foundation for relationships outside the Twitter world, which is, unfortunately where the far majority of us have to live most of our life. We could use more helpful people in this real life world.

This is important, becuase often organizations spend lots of time “strategizing” what they will do with social media. But the reality is that it ain’t rocket science. The best practice I have run across is to find (or get) someone on your organization who is into this stuff — and let them go to town. Make it their job to be present everywhere, in helpful ways.

Then — and this is the kicker — make sure that your actions are in line with your online presence.

You may find, on honest reflection, that you just aren’t up to the task organizationally. Not becuase you can’t handle the social media piece — because you might not be able to back it up.

If that’s the case, you may want to reassess a few things.