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Social-Media Musts

Social media is one of those buzzwords that some hope will go away soon. Unfortunately, it probably won’t. Much like email, it’s here to stay. But do you have to participate? And, if so at what level? These are questions that everyone should ask themselves whether they are a writer, business owner, or rock star.

First and foremost, before you submerge yourself in the social graph, you should think about what your strategy is and what you hope to gain from it. Is it because every other company, writer, or rock star is doing it? If so, that’s the wrong reason. For example, if you are a writer, your reason to engage in social media should be to build a platform to help you sell your books. If you’re a business then it should be to turn prospects into customers, increase sales, or improve customer service. Are you lucky enough to be a rock star? Then it should be to sell more records and tickets to venues.

Second, once you decide the reasons for wanting to engage in social media, look at the competition and see what forms of social media they are using and decide which one is right for you. But before you go and sign up for all of them, try starting off with only one. It could be a blog, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Digg, or MySpace. But keep in mind, many of your fellow competitors have engaged in social media in all forms because social media exploded, and with no direction, they have sampled everything on the menu. They heard the buzzword, caught the fever, and said, “So-and-so is doing it, so we need Facebook, Twitter, and blog asap!” They never sat down and thought of a strategy behind doing so. Sigh.

Third, before you get started you need to get your entire staff or board to buy into the idea. They all represent your brand. They need to be aligned with your mission, goals, and strategy for wanting to do social media. They also need to be armed with the right tools and educated about your social-media policy.

Fourth, set realistic goals for yourself. For Twitter, the goal should be five to ten tweets per day, minimum. They should include something personal, share something relevant and some praise for your fellow followers, i.e. retweets. The rule to follow is 10 percent personal, 70 percent sharing, 20 percent retweets. For Facebook, you should have two to four posts per day. Blogs, they don’t have to be daily, but they do have to be regular.

Finally, once you decide to partake in the social graph, you need to engage with your audience. Reply when appropriate to both positive and negative comments. Social media is for being social, it’s not a Google news alert. Being social means engaging in conversation with others. There are many ways you can engage by asking questions, putting up a poll or a link to a short survey, putting up a photo, etc.

Now you are ready and armed to embrace the social graph! See you on Twitter!

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