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The business climate we find ourselves in doesn’t allow us to take a cavalier attitude towards Marketing activities. Social Media is no different. Having no presence in any of the Social Media options is just plain dumb, but having a presence that is merely superficial can be just as bad.

We’ve all seen ‘those companies’ on Twitter who tweeted a handful of times in the first few days of creating their account, and then went dead silent for the last year. What happened? Why would they do that? What about the company blogs or Facebook pages that haven’t seen any fresh material in months, or longer? Who’s behind this? Far be it from me to criticize, since I have my moments of extreme procrastination that would make ‘the Dude’ in ‘The Big Lebowski’ seem like a dynamic young go-getter, but how can a company not have anything to say for a YEAR?!?

Let’s start with the obvious: If you’re in business and are currently alive and breathing, then you know about ‘Social Media’. It’s been the biggest buzz phrase since ‘Think Outside The Box’ thoroughly saturated the business world. If you’ve been paying any attention to the world at all, you know that Social Media is big on an epic scale, and businesses are adopting it at an astounding rate. That being said, if you took the time to create an account for your business, create an avatar, write a description, design a fancy background, and post a few snippets of info, then you MUST have done it for a reason. You must have recognized some intrinsic value in doing this, even if it was only a tiny little bit. Yet you stopped? For some reason you stopped doing something that takes no cash out of your pocket, creates a constantly growing footprint for your company, is searchable, shareable, and (if done properly) gives you greater credibility than your competition in your marketplace.

I suppose what ‘could’ have happened was that whoever took the initiative within the company to start using SM either left, was fired, or ordered to stop. But really, what are the odds of that? Probably better than I realize, but still, I don’t think that should be considered a legitimate reason. If you’re reading this, and realize that “Holy crap on a cracker, he’s talking about MY company!!”, then the time to remedy this problem is right now.

The accounts are there, ready and waiting for you, all you need to do is start feeding them some material. However, before you start going in to damage-control mode and posting everything and anything in an incoherent stream of gibberish, take some advice that comes direct from one of the top thinkers in the world of Social Media, Mitch Joel. Joel says in his book, SIx Pixels of Separation, that to proceed in to social media without an overarching strategy can hinder your ability to create a thriving community presence.

Start by thinking about what your goals are, what your strengths are, where your knowledge and expertise truly are, and how you can help. That last point is really key, because the entire reason for joining, creating, or participating in any community is to give help and receive help. Formulate your plan for social media based on how you can provide useful material to your community. Then, start contributing, and most importantly, don’t stop. This isn’t to say that you need to post everywhere, everyday, but you do need to be consistent. Start out at a comfortable pace, then pick it up as you gain confidence with what you’re doing. As Mitch Joel also points out in “Six Pixels”, the last thing you want is to have your audience be accustomed to you posting a ton of content at the beginning and then be disappointed as you slow down when your content fuel tanks dry up.

The key is to be fully committed to the fact that this stuff matters. If you’re going to be there, then BE THERE. Take it seriously, realize that it takes time to build your community, and most importantly, realize that you’re doing it for your audience, not for yourself.