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If you ask 100 different people about their online social media strategy, you’ll receive 100 different answers.

Some put all of their trust in Facebook, relying solely on a Page in order to connect with potential customers. The next will have a horizontal structure, relying on a blog and every social media site they have access to in order to bring in the prospects by ones and twos. Some will try out ads on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook in order to reach out to detailed demographics, while others will rely on Google for their entire strategy.The Right Way To Think About Social Media

There is no right way to approach it. And quite frankly, you can have great results with any of the methods you try. There are ways to succeed at everything. But there is one thing to remember with every social media site you choose to use:

What exists today may not be here tomorrow. The better prepares you are for it, the less impact it will have on your business overall.

When I use a social media site, I have five rules to make sure I’m using it the right way.

Rule #1: What will I do if this disappears tomorrow?
If you’ve been online for a while now, you know the frustration of having everything you’ve worked for taken away in an instant.

  • Google’s done it when they change their algorithms and you move from dozens of natural rankings to nothing overnight.
  • Facebook’s done it when they discontinue portions of their site.

The problem is in many cases, you have zero or very little warning that its about to occur. It simply ceases to exist overnight. Then you’re left scrambling to pick up the pieces and recover.

Ask yourself with every online tool you are using what you would do if it disappears tomorrow. Could you pickup right where you are with another tool and carry on? You need a solid plan in place for when this happens. (Because it will.)

Rule #2: Recognize this is a long term strategy
It may be Google today, LinkedIn tomorrow, and Instagram the next. Things change all the time. If you focus on the tool, you’ll be left with disaster along the way as things change.

Instead, focus on the process. Have a plan in place. If you know where you are going, you can feed in the tools along the way that help you get to where you are going. Because the tool doesn’t matter; its how you reach out and connect with your potential clients that brings in business.

Rule #3: Give your audience what they want
So many people concentrate on high ranking in Google, great ads on Facebook, or a tweet every hour on Twitter. Statistics are important, but overall it’s the results that matter most.

Your audience wants to learn about you, discover what you have to say, read the stories you have to tell. They want to connect with you, build a relationship with you. Social media tools are just ways of making the content visible in a media format they prefer the most.

Your audience is there; it just depends on what you have to say. Say it the right way, and you can quickly build a following for life.