You'll want to use social media strategically to meet a specific business goal. Do you want to create greater brand awareness or drive sales leads? Enhance your public awareness or create a community of advocates? Once you have a goal, decide what kind of updates you'll need, their frequency and what platform they'll be on. It's also important to decide up front how you are going to measure success. What you want to happen as a result of your postings? As you go about crafting your strategy, listen first to conversations your customers are already having on social media. When you're ready to jump in, be authentic and connect with your customers personally. Make it a two-way dialogue and not a one-way broadcast. Track your progress, but remember, you'll have to be patient. Getting results from social media marketing can often take time.

There are nearly as many social-media marketing books out there as there are social-media marketing experts, so recommending just one could set the Twittersphere going. You'll get a good overview of the latest thinking about social media and how small business can make the most of it, by checking out our social media marketing tag page, which also includes adapted excerpts from recent books published on the subject.