Take a breath and take it easy!

If you’re a a member of the leadership team in your company, you’re probably looking for real world examples of how social media is being used. At this reasonably early stage in social media adoption for businesses, the more real world examples the better! Both good and bad!

You’re likely going to think about the costs associated to having a social media presence and what types of return you’ll get on your time, resources and financial investment. Wow, that’s a lot to think about!

You can start exploring this question by asking yourself: “to what extent should we participate if at all?”. Chances are pretty good that you should participate to some degree. However, before you start tweeting, building a fan page and starting a blog, take a breath and start slow and start small. In fact, if you already are using social media, you may still want to take a breath.

Here’s some steps you can take as you suck on some oxygen:

•Become familiar with a social media framework. I like Forresters POST method, which they define as a “Systematic Approach to Social Strategy“. Marketing Sherpa recently introduced their ROAD Map to Social Marketing Maturity
•Go see if your customers are participating in social media now. Pick your top 20 accounts and contacts, then do a search on Google. Ask this question: is [name of company] on twitter? Do the exact same thing for your competitors. If they are, go and read about what they are tweeting. Maybe you’ll learn something about them, something that is important to you and your relationship or the competitive landscape in your industry.

•Now, go to Linkedin and search for key contacts in your industry and see if they have a Linkedin profile. If they have a profile give it a read and see if you learn something.

This may seem really simple, but if social media is new to you and your company trying this may be a good start. Even if you have been using social media, take a breath and give this a try.

•Study some social media frameworks like the POST or ROAD methods.
•Be smart and listen and watch what your customers and competitors are doing.

You’ll figure out eventually, what you should do in order to productively participate in social media land.

I recommend you read the book Groundswell by Josh Bernoff and Charlene Lee. This book report on Groundswell may be useful as well.