It’s 2012 and I can’t resist jumping on the “Things To Do In 2012″ bandwagon. Slowly but surely, people we are meeting with are starting to understand how important is is for them to get involved with social media marketing. Those who are onboard often tell me they are overwhelmed and need help, and they know we are here to help. But, if you’re one of those who want to manage your online presence all by yourself, and you’re feeling overwhelmed, maybe we can help you organize your social media efforts and bring some balance back into your life.

Start with the – “Why?”

Many people get into social media for the wrong reason and participate in the networks they joined way too much or way too little. Now’s a great time to really give some thought to why you are involved in the social networks you are involved in. Having clarity in the “Why?” is the first step in getting yourself organized and on track. Here’s a few ideas to help you answer the question.

  • Are you involved with social media to boost your ego? Do you collect followers, connections, and Likes solely so you can tell your friends about the numbers you’ve amassed?
  • Do you really want to engage with the people you’ve connected with, or do you just want to promote yourself or your product all the time?
  • Did you join a particular social network just because “Everyone I know is on …?”
  • Are you prepared to put in the time necessary to accomplish your social media marketing goals consistently throughout 2012?

The answers to these questions are important and will help you form your social media marketing strategy for 2012. Know this: businesses and business people, wanting to succeed in the world as it is today, must WANT to connect. You must WANT to connect with you current clients/customers, prospects and referral sources if you want to be a successful social marketer. These are the people who will help your business grow. Now, when I say “connect,” I mean really engaging in conversations with people instead of pummeling them with promotions for your product or service. I mean adding value to people’s lives on a regular basis with your posts. I mean working hard to build lasting online relationships with your connections so they trust and respect you.

If you don’t consistently provide your connections with valuable content you and your business will be forgotten. If you over do it and post too much people will get irritated and stop following you. The key to a successful social media strategy is the same key to a happy and healthy life: Balance.

Whether you are a small business or a Fortune 500 Company your commitment to social networking should be consistent, compelling and engaging. The social community is a fickle one. They will follow someone who is consistent, compelling and engaging, but once you slip up, they’re gone, never to return.

Developing a social networking schedule you can handle, must also keep you accountable. Again, the goal is consistency. Build your schedule and stick with it for an entire month. At the end of the month, stop and evaluate your efforts to determine if you are still on goal. Do you need to tweak the schedule? Do you need to get involved in more social networks or less?

Here’s a sample social media marketing schedule I provide only to stimulate discussion. Use this schedule to generate ideas that will help you create your own schedule to meet your needs and the needs of your social communities, accomplish your goals, and fit your particular business and work style.

Two times a day

  • Check your Twitter feed. Reply when required and check the keywords you are listening for. Join a conversation or two.
  • Check your LinkedIn profile and visit some of the Groups you are in. Engage with your LinkedIn network in some way twice a day, every day.
  • Check your Facebook Page and post something of value or respond to comments.
  • Check your Google Alerts for information on your competitors and mentions of your own brand.

Once A Week

  • Work on Twitter and Facebook Lists to be better organized and so you are able to send targeted marketing messages when appropriate.
  • Really spend some time in LinkedIn Answers and discussions in the Groups you belong to.
  • Schedule tweets and status updates for the next week so you are consistently providing your connections with valuable information.
  • Spend some time building relationships with other influencers.
  • Keep up to date on new products and social tools that will increase your efficiency and reach.

During the Week

Monday

Schedule tweets and status updates to provide meaningful content in addition to the content you scheduled in your once a week session. This information may be more timely and less generic that the other things you scheduled.

Mondays and Wednesdays

Get involved in an industry specific conversation on Twitter.

Tuesdays

Respond to blog comments on your blog and leave a comment or two on another blog. Remember what I said about building trust and credibility!

Fridays

Check on the things you’ve been Listening to. This would also be a good day to take a look at your analytics and analyze your website and blog traffic for the week.

Okay, your schedule is likely to be very different from this one. Consider your time commitments. Be sure you are leaving time for yourself to do something like exercise or read. Make the schedule something you will really do every week. Tweak the schedule along the way but remember that consistency is key.

Feel free to share some of your own ideas below!