We've already established that social media is an amazing channel for marketing, especially for start-ups. This method is cheap and nearly foolproof, but needs to be done correctly for it to have any success. Here is a checklist of things you and your marketing team need to know before embarking on a social media marketing quest. 1. Do you have a plan? Seems obvious, but it's easy to get caught up in experimenting and driving traffic with no concrete plan set in place. Keep these things in mind and figure them out before starting any campaigns (yes, a list within a list!) a. Do you know who your target audience is? b. How do you plan to talk to them? c. Do you know how your social media campaign ties into your traditional marketing plan? d. Do you know who is going to staff your social media efforts? e. Do you know your social media business objectives? f. How will you measure your success? 2. Are you paying attention to timing? Do you know what time your target audience goes to bed? Wakes up? Takes a coffee break? You should! Timing is everything, and this is never more true than when it comes to viraling or pushing something on social media. Why would you post an important ad in the middle of the night when you know your customers are sleeping? Try to hit them right when they're getting bored at work, or getting ready for bed. Late morning/early afternoon times seem to work for many brands, but this should be specific to your audience. 3. Do you know your social media etiquette? Nobody likes the new guy that comes in and doesn't understand the lay of the land. There is a subtle set of unspoken rules when it comes to each channel, so be sure you understand the lingo before making too much noise. Here are some ways to not rock to boat too much: a. Start conversations by asking thought-provoking questions - Add to the conversation, don't try to just promote your brand then run. People want quality posts and you can't give them that with a spam-email styled status! b. Don't follow someone on Twitter, then unfollow them when they follow you - That's just not very nice. If you want followers that badly, there are many, many other ways to do so! c. Promote other people as well as your own brand - It's a tough world out there for social media marketers. Spread the love and collaborate. You never know where these connections can come in handy in the future. d. Don't spread yourself too thin - You can't deliver great content if you don't have the time to do so. Focus on managing four great channels or less, then move up when you really think you've got a handle on things. Social media is an amazing tool that can boost your brand quickly if used correctly. Don't go in there blind - study up and you'll rock!