Not into social media yet? Time to get in the game

social mediaSocial media has been around as long as indoor plumbing. Well, at least that’s how it seems in Internet time.

But there are probably plenty of businesses – OK, let’s see a show of hands – that haven’t jumped on the bandwagon yet, whether it’s out of a lack of knowledge, a lack of faith in the medium or a simple lack of time.

While your website should remain the locus of your inbound marketing efforts, social media is a significant (and inexpensive) way to help you expand your reach and leverage your Web presence.

Where to begin? Here are 5 questions to begin your social media education:

Is it right for me? Erica Templeman of New Marketing Labs has a few starter questions to get you started in the right direction.

Why should I? Mitch Joel addresses “some of the many questions that brands are asking of Social Media” in this post on Six Pixels of Separation. Our favorite takeway? “I have rarely not seen an opportunity to use Social Media – in one form or another – as one of the many cogs in the Marketing machine.”

Which platform is the right platform? There is no set answer to that. Ask someone, say, three years ago, and they’d say MySpace (MyWhat?) was the place to be. There are new biggies on the block now, but that’s not to say they’ll be in the dustbin of Internet history in three years. The right platform is the platform the bulk of your target audience is using right now. Jay Baer shares “4 Detective Tricks to Find Your Customers in Social Media” on the Convince & Convert blog.

A multi-platform strategy may be your best bet, if you have the time and resources to manage it, but just because you can, don’t just throw content up against the wall.

Make smart choices. Read Rachnar Sundaram’s thinking on this on his post on Revenews, “Which Social Media Channel Does Your Business Need?”

Who should handle it? This isn’t the kind of thing you hand to one person and expect them to work it into their current job responsibilities. Probably the best way to go is designate a social media champion and get them to recruit other employees to contribute.

Of course, if you’re a sole proprietor, that’s you. On the other hand, you can also outsource your social media efforts. A looks at the pros and cons of this approach can be found on the Vertical Measures blog.

How will I know if any of this stuff is helping your business? Well, you need to set goals BEFORE you begin, and then measure them as you go. A good starting point for thinking about this is “5 Objectives for Social Media Measurement” from Amber Naslund on Brass Tacks Thinking.

Intrigued? Convinced? The Web isn’t waiting for you, so jump on in.

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