Social mediaFacebook, Twitter, Foursquare, LinkedIn…which do you use? Which ones should you use and why? Business marketing is being reshaped by these platforms and it’s important to understand their usefulness and engage in them. There is a great deal of useful information on the Internet broaching the subject on social media and business. If you’re relatively new to the subject and you do a quick search, you’ll quickly get the feeling that you’re in over your head. But, don’t despair!

Just as we mentioned earlier, there are many different platforms that are available, attractive, and viable for business owners to use. Each one offers a slightly different twist or service too…making it somewhat necessary to use more than just one. In light of that fact, we thought it would be helpful to highlight the strengths for several of these marketing “game-shapers.”

Before you dive in and start using any social media service, it’s important to create a plan for your business. While you are developing that plan, we’d like to reinforce five key components directly related to the use of social media that will aid you in developing your own use policy and guidelines:

1. Don’t completely delegate your company’s social media plan and involvement to someone else. As the owner of your company, you know your brand better than anyone. Take a little time, learn the fundamentals, then apply them to your company, and find the social media systems that work best for your business.

2. Social media is about return on engagement. Don’t expect massive interest in your products or services without some work on your part. Social media isn’t a magical, sales-boosting potion.

3. Social media isn’t an opportunity to reinvent your brand, but to widen your brand’s reach.

4. Read the article “10 Commandments of Modern Marketing.” This excellent article would be a great foundation for your company’s marketing plan across the board—not just in the social media realm, but in every facet of how you market your company’s products or services. This article is helpful for both new and seasoned business owners to read and apply to their marketing strategy. Be sure to read the comments too as many good insights are in them as well.

5. Your customers, clients, and partners are watching and reading…EVERYTHING. It’s critical to remember this…ALWAYS. Social media is a great tool for genuine interaction with people all over the world. But, if you do it wrong, it can create mounds of trouble for you and your business. Two great examples of this are what happened with Motrin and with James Andrews from Ketchum, a PR firm for FedEx at the time.

We hope these five principles will be beneficial for you as you develop your own game plan for using social media. Even if you have already incorporated social media into your company’s marketing plan, there are still several concepts and principles listed here that may be useful to you as you further refine your use of social media and as new, exciting services emerge.

In the coming weeks, we will be sharing some tips specific to each of the current popular social media services that are being widely used.

Embedded below is a video we recently used in a presentation to a local web marketers group. It contains some very powerful statistics about the reach of social media.

[youtube width=”480″ height=”295″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIFYPQjYhv8[/youtube]

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