So you have a business, a great website, and now you want to jump on the twitter-facebook-digg-etc.-bandwagon. After all, how hard could it be?

I’m sure that’s what the majority of wide-eyed and hopeful business owners/entrepreneurs think when they start creating their social media network accounts. However, after a few weeks of desperately following everyone on twitter, to find that only 3 have returned the favor, they too readily give up and let their social media dreams dwindle and, eventually, die.

Don’t let this happen to you. Social Media Optimization can do wonders for your business, but it’s not a miracle drug by any means. Here are a few key points you need to understand:

1. Great things take time. Be patient. The most important thing I’ve noticed is that you have to keep at it. I once worked with a client that expected to see outstanding results, from our SMO efforts, in less than a month. Needless to say, he was disappointed. Sorry to those of you looking for a quick fix, nothing in life worth doing will be that quick and easy.

2. Choose the social media networks that you feel will be the most beneficial to your website. You don’t need to belong to every social network community! Only choose the sites where your target audience is spending their time and interacting with one another.

3. Become an active member of those communities. The last thing you want to do is look like a spammer. Before you start posting content about yourself, comment on other people’s content and start creating relationships within the communities. Once others trust you, they will trust your content and posts.

4. Once you have established yourself as a trustworthy member of the network, you need to start driving people from those outlets to your site. You can do this through contests (I would recommend at least one give-a-way a month — it doesn’t have to be huge or expensive) and through great content. If you write interesting blog posts that are original, fun, and informational, than people will want to go to your site. But remember to keep the content related to your industry. (E.g. If you sell figure skating equipment on your site, then do posts like: top 5 ice skating clips, 10 most famous figure skaters, A few tips to improve your axel…and so on)

If these steps are followed, and social networking is done appropriately and with real intent to provide users with great information, then you will succeed. Keep at it, and good luck!

Adam Jackson