Social Media BandwagonSearch the Internet about social media, and you’ll find a host of results on how to use it, what mediums are out there, making money with it, and how to use it best.  You’ve read all about Twitter, than Twitter makes updates and you don’t know where to begin. Same thing with Facebook. You hear all about how many millions of users are using it, yet you can’t seem to get your Fanpage past 50 fans. Let me tell you, they’re ever changing sometimes week to week, so if you’re not understanding them now, it could be harder to find the relevance to your bottom line.

Before I get into the return on your investment with social media, I’d like to first talk about the various mediums and some basic effectiveness. If you think that all it takes to be successful in social media is just a few minutes a day with thoughtful posts of inspirational quotes mixed with posts about your website, sales, and products; you’re seriously mistaken.  Don’t get into social media with the intent on trying to sell. You’ll quickly become frustrated with the lack of interactions and see it as a one way conversation.

Twitter is great for short conversations throughout the day. You can jump in any active conversation, trending topic, or subject. Its real-time so the chances of hearing back from someone minutes after your replies are quite high.

Facebook Fan Pages are best with fewer posts each day. Another words, you may come up with a great post about a subject, then concentrate on following up with your fans as they post comments to your original post.

Linked In has so many avenues to engage with people, you can literally spend hours on that site and forego any actual productivity. From answering questions, to posting in groups, to connecting with old colleagues or new prospective clients; there’s plenty to keep you busy.

YouTube can almost be seen as one directional since you are mostly posting videos. However that’s just the beginning. Once posted, you’ll have the opportunity to follow along with the viewers feedback via the comments below your video. So post a great instructional video and you’re likely to get comments and questions for more information or encouraging words to post more videos.

Return on Investment. Well this is a hot button that seems to change often. At first I used to say that there was no money in social media. Whatever efforts you put in, you wouldn’t find the same in profits. I’m starting to change my stance on that because I’ve learned that you can’t use social media to sell. At least not blatantly. What I mean is, think of it as a networking meeting. You can’t just walk into a room full of people screaming to the top of your lungs about the sales and services you provide. Instead you walk in and court each person you make eye contact with. You meet people and ask who they are, what they do, where they’re from; then engage in light conversation. Maybe they sound interested (follow) in what you do, but not enough to be compelled to purchase something from you on the spot. However what you say about your industry and brand intrigues them to keep you in mind (comment/@reply) to tell other people about. You leave them with a great impression (post) and move on to meet someone else. The more people you meet, they more impressions you make. With the increase in impressions, the more traffic your website and business phone starts to get. You then start to become an authority on a subject matter. When that happens more people start to pay attention to what you say and post. And now because you’re respected, when you do offer a special or a sale (not often) they share your offer with others or purchase some for themselves. You couple all of that with analytics to gauge where you were most influential each day of the month and you replicate your best efforts the following month. All while keeping track of your lead performance, site traffic, and other metrics.

I know this sounds like a lot; and to be honest it’s all of this and more. Sure anyone can do this. Not everyone will be as effective or as diligent so choose your mediums and efforts wisely. The worse thing you can do is start and abruptly stop.

Have some other tips on social media and how to bank more for your buck? Please share in the comments below.