Not a day goes by that most of us aren't touched in some way by the power of social media and social networking, but many business owners are still hesitant to tap into that power for their organization. There are 10 things you can do to ensure success with social media.

  1. Above all else, it's about people. At its core, social media is simply a philosophy and set of tools to get you closer to your customer with the intent of improving and building on your relationships. Think people first, second and always.
  2. Content drives conversations. Rick Short of Indium Corp. is fond of saying that his job in marketing is to turn "content into contacts." Social media content allows you to demonstrate your value to prospective clients,
  3. Begin with the end in mind. Too many organizations are rudderless when it comes to social media. Distinguish yourself with a sound strategy and a
  4. Know your audience. Connecting with people is the goal of social media, but what if those people don't want to connect? Ask your customers what value they seek from you in social media and how they want to receive it.
  5. Gather your team. Using social media across an organization requires a horizontal team of professionals from IT, human resources, legal, marketing and public relations. Identify a team from your staff with expertise from these areas and heed their input.
  6. Listen and learn. There are few, if any, products that are not talked about on the Internet. Whatever widget or service you sell, you can listen to the conversation on blogs, Twitter, forums and social networks. You can have a front-row seat into customer issues and impressions that you can use in your marketing.
  7. Pay attention to keywords. More than 80 percent of consumers use search engines to find local businesses. Social media content factors prominently into consumers' ability to find you. When you're engaging in social media, use keywords that identify what you sell and that differentiate you from competitors.
  8. Be in it for the long haul. Denise Morrissey of Toyota stated that the key to successful social media engagement is to commit to a relationship with customers in social media.
  9.  Do a culture check. One reason we see social media fail in organizations is due to a cultural misfit. Ensure success by asking whether you're ready for the required transparency, immediacy of response, engagement and sharing that's part of the social media etiquette.
  10. Have fun and engage. The beauty of social media is that it makes marketing and building your business fun. It puts you in touch with real, live customers who are your fans. Return the favor by commenting on their feedback and letting them know you're listening. You'll kill your program quickly if you don't respond in social media when your customers engage you.
Ten keys to social media success