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2011 was a big year for social media. We saw continued growth of sites like Facebook and Twitter, as well as the introduction of Google+. Many businesses continued the adoption of using social media as part of their marketing strategies, and now we are seeing the the early stages of what the social graph in search results within Google and Bing look like.

2012 will be undoubtedly be another year of huge growth in social media, and if you have not embraced it in your business, or if you dipped your toes in the water and gave up, now is the time to roll up your sleeves and get moving in the right direction.

Here are a few ideas to ponder as you get ready for 2012.

Invest A Proper Amount Of Time – Don’t Short Change Your Efforts:

The biggest investment you will make into your social media efforts is TIME. Stop looking for the easy button when it comes to social media… there isn’t one. You MUST put the time in to achieve the results you want. PERIOD!

Create Your Goals – Achieve Your Goals:

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail, so go into social media with a roadmap, and plan on how to achieve your goal. Do you want more followers, leads, sales, site visits, white paper downloads, likes, replies or newsletter signups? No matter what the goals are, if you do not plan for them now, you will lose your way and find yourself not getting what you want out of social media, and possibly giving up on it altogether. Sure, you may find yourself adjusting your goals along the way, and that is OK… but start somewhere.

Create A Content Calendar – Plan Your Content In Advance:

Set up a calendar and plan your content. Each month decide what type of content you will be posting. Will you be blogging, if so how many times per week? How will you engage your audience, will you maybe run a contest on your Facebook page, how about a poll, or a question of the day? How about creating a video each week? Does your company have a particular marketing message for the year that you should sync up with? In the end you want to create content that people will engage with, share with their friends, and provide value to all involved.

Side note: Keep in mind that people do not care to be advertised to… so use the simple 80/20 rule. Talk/share interesting things, or engage your audience 80% of the time, and talk about yourself (self promotion (20%) of the time.

Track And Measure Your Posts:

If you use Google Analytics on your site, use the Google Analytics URL builder tool and create campaigns. Track all links going to your site from all the social networks you post on. You can test what social sites work best, what time of day is best to post, and what type of content resonates best with your audience. Obviously you will be able to track ROI of your efforts here as well. Everything has some sort of value, whether it is a lead, a fan or follower, or an actual sale, you can attribute a dollar amount to almost any action on your website. Make your time investment in social media pay for itself!

The Best Social Media Tool Is You:

While I was at SMX in Arizona earlier this month, there were many presentations on different tools you can use for social media. Anything from automation, to tracking and engagement tools… but at the end of the day, we all agreed that the best tool is you. You, as in THE HUMAN ELEMENT. At the end of the day, I am not a fan of automation for the sake of automation. But, if you choose to automate anything, just be sure you are available to answer any replies people may leave. No one likes to follow an account that does not reply or engage.

In future posts I will break down each one of these ideas into more detail, as well as have additional information, as these ideas are just the tip of the iceberg to get you thinking about social media in 2012 and beyond.

Please leave your comments below as I would love to hear from you. And if there is anything in particular you would like me to cover in future posts about social media marketing, please leave those in the comments as well.

Until next time… Doc

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