With so much information, hype and buzz about social media marketing, where does one begin SMM in the new year? More importantly, where/how can you see results yourself–and quickly? I’m not thinking about resources, skills or time. That comes later.

First, a no-brainer question:

“Where do you, as a business owner, get started with social media? In other words, taking action today, for results tomorrow”?

Before answering that, let me tell you that, for me, it’s been a great year in terms of discovering the power of social media. (For clarification, social media is defined as “A category of sites that is based on user participation and user-generated content. They include social networking sites like LinkedIn or Facebook, social bookmarking sites like Del.icio.us, social news sites like Digg or Reddit, and other sites that are centered on user interaction”). (searchenginewatch.com)

I have seen massive traffic increases and wide expansion of brand awareness (i.e. mindshare) using social channels. This has surpassed the more traditional–but also very viable–SEO route. (Note: This is an “it depends,” so as to not offend the SEOs out there).

Communities and communication can be a great equalizer for your small business, and you don’t have to learn anything you don’t already know.
Sure, there are techniques to learn, but I’m not talking about that. I’m purely calling out the fact that you can leverage “you.” Imagine going to a cocktail party for a business event. How and with whom you interact can make a potentially big difference in future business. If you know how to talk, share and listen (in reverse order), you’re on your way.

The companies who have paid attention to social media have been able to build brand loyalty in a big way.
The conversations and interactions create an emotional connection, which makes surfers take action in a much more positive way that also increases conversions. This is the “conversation/inbound marketing” approach, vs. the old way of “interruption marketing.” (This is nothing new, see marketing thought leader Seth Godin’s post from ten years ago).

Social media marketing is using technology platforms as an extension of the already established human connection. People want to do business with people. So getting customers to know you personally will yield advantages for your business. Don’t hide behind your desk or BS corporate infrastructure. It’s not safe anywhere.

You must keep your integrity intact here.
Spamming will serve you poorly. Placing affiliate links everywhere will hurt you. When you consider the power of the “thumbs up/down” voting system on a platform such as Digg.com, you’ll learn how to be cool, very quickly. This speaks to the inherent “rule of social media land”: honesty, integrity and making real friends and business connections are more important than showcasing a huge list of friends on Facebook, for example.

If you are having issues with leads and business flow, establish yourself as a leader in your space.  You may have already, but expand it with social media marketing.

Earning yourself the love is easy.
… Just talk with people, share something of value, make it useful and unique. (Jon’s note: See the pattern of providing good, quality content here that I’ve talked about before? Users and search engines love it!)

With shrinking budgets and a tightening of pockets everywhere, we now must try to make more with less. Since social media technologies are widely available and growing fast, you can use and build social media systems yourself. (see ning.com). The power of creating personal or business profiles and more at Facebook and Linkedin should be considered. Learning how to use them all for revenue results becomes a higher focus in 2009.

But this is all complex stuff!
Not really. Begin your year with a fun, detailed explanation of the number one social media spot. This will be a game changer for your business, if you do it right.

Begin Today:
Get the social media marketing information here.

Hint: A bird sang in my ear.


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Entrepreneur Magazine says Jon Rognerud is one of the most sought-after Digital Marketing Experts. His clients extend from high-end brands and middle-tier businesses in both B2B and B2C. His SEO website optimization book, "The Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Website" from Entrepreneur Press is in bookstores now.