Key #1: Social media is dramatically changing the rules of how business is done around the world--and understanding these rules puts them very much in your favor.
This is important because the unwritten rules and etiquette in social media are very different from traditional marketing methods used in the past. Without understanding this new social media landscape and these unwritten rules that govern it--you leave yourself open to the possibility of making costly mistakes that could negatively impact your business--or perhaps even worse--cause you to leave tons of growth potential and revenue on the table by not participating at all. The strategies of push marketing--telling everyone who will listen about your product or service--reflect the old model and is one that does not work in social media. Understanding that it is about people and participation more than being "pushy" is of utmost importance.
Key #2: In social media, who you are being is equally as important as the problem you solve.
Your audience wants to know your top priority is how you can be of service rather than having a "what's in it for me?" mentality. That is a huge turn off. Being clear on who you are authentically being, as well as the problem or challenge you are an expert in solving will greatly inform your strategy--and the content you choose to share with your audience in your profile, posts and updates.
This all leads back to increasing the balance in your "social capital" bank account--and how this can actually translate into real dollars in your business. Those who are rich in social capital receive better, more passionate word of mouth referrals, which lead to repeat sales, customer loyalty, and ultimately big increases in your bottom line.
Key #3: Understanding how to identify and deliver quality content to your network or audience using social media.
Serving your network with quality content is the key rather than constantly pitching them with your latest thing. It's surprising to see how some marketers still have not figured out that the rules in social media are different, and continue to show up on sites like Twitter and Facebook only pushing links to their latest product
launch. Even though they made money with their methods in the past, this way of being in the social media space has a very negative impact on their reputation in the eyes of their social media connections.
When you focus on solving problems and educating with your content rather than selling, you will be seen as a trusted advisor that your audience will be excited to refer others to. This is because they have grown to know, like and trust you and have experienced the quality of your expertise through the educational and informative content you share via social media.
KEY #4: Understanding how to leverage the powerful tools like Facebook and Twitter specifically to explode your message and expand your "tribe."
This key is a critical piece of the social media success puzzle. For each site, you first need to create a clear social media plan and understand why you are there and what you want out of it. When trying to determine what sites are right for you, ask yourself what your end goals are. What results would make it worthwhile for you?
Once you know that, focus on creating a thorough and effective profile, becoming familiar with the particular etiquette do's and don'ts, searching for people in your target market to connect with and sharing quality content.
So, what does this all come down to for you and your business? It means it is no longer business as usual--you can't market, sell or manage the way you did even three years ago. But if you make the decision to commit to yourself and your business to explore and leverage the powerful new landscape of social media, you'll soon bypass your competitors to lead your niche in marketing, branding and buzz.