Welcome to another New Year! While everyone else is busy thinking about or already breaking their New Year resolutions, it’s time for us to take a moment to rethink what it is we can really do better now and over the next 12 months.

I’m sure you heard it everywhere last year. Experts found the highest blog mountains and social network skyscrapers to Tweet in concert, “You need a Facebook brand page! Why are you not on Twitter yet? Have you checked-in on Foursquare? Hurry up and get set up on Google+. If you don’t get on social media, you’re going to go out of business!”

And, here you are…still in business, I presume. But like any keen business leader or entrepreneur, you’re avidly thinking about your next move and your social media strategies for 2012.

You already know that running the show in a mode of “business as usual” is not only limiting, it’s terribly complacent.  But if you are to change, you need to better understand exactly how technology is influencing the behavior of your customers and why.

The truth is that you can create your company brand pages on every social network you can imagine and you won’t succeed unless you know whom you’re trying to reach and where, what it is they expect and value, and how these channels represent a meaningful opportunity for you and your consumers to connect.

You first must answer what’s in it for them and what’s in it for you.

Defining your Social Media Strategy

Social networks, smartphones, tablets, review sites, gamification, geo-location, et al. are producing a new breed of consumer, and businesses are largely missing them altogether. In fact, the emergence of this more “connected consumer” is forcing the end of business as usual.

At the same time, the decision patterns of these connected consumers has ushered in an era of risk where any business, large and small, is vulnerable to digital Darwinism — the evolution of consumer behavior when society and technology evolve faster than the ability to adapt.

Ten Social Media Tips

In 2012, consider yourself a digital anthropologist or sociologist as you immerse yourself in a day in the life of your connected consumer and seek to close the chasm between you and them.

There are many professional social media analysts, researchers and strategists who can help you find the answers you seek.

Starting now and forever, technology and empathy are now part of your business strategy. To what extent disruptive technology impacts your markets will depend on your industry and the rate of adoption within it.

Priority areas for your social media strategy should include an understanding of the following:

1. Social Networks from Facebook to Twitter to Google+ and how they’re connecting to influencers and businesses

2. Geo-location check-in services such as Foursquare and Facebook location updates to share locations and earn rewards or opportunities for discounts.

3. Crowd-sourced discounts and deals including Groupon and LivingSocial and what’s valued and why.

4. Social commerce services like Shopkick and Armadealo and how they create personalized experiences that are worth sharing.

5. Referral based solutions like Yelp, Service Magic, and Angie’s List to make informed decisions and how shared experiences can improve your business, products, and services.

6. Gamification platforms such as Badgeville and Fangager, and why rewarding engagement improves commerce and loyalty.

7. How your consumers using mobile devices today and what apps they’re installing. Also, how they’re comparing options, reviewing experiences and making decisions while mobile?

8. The online presence your business produces across a variety of platforms such as tablets, smartphones, laptops and desktops. You must realize how consumers are experiencing the online presences you create and whether or not they deliver a holistic and optimized experience for each platform.

9. The consumer clickpath based on the platform consumers are using. Are you steering experiences based on the expectations of your customers? And are you taking into consideration the device or network where the clickpath begins and ends? Are you integrating Facebook F-commerce and m-commerce into the journey?

10. The expectations of connected consumers, what they value in each channel and platform, where they engage and how your business can improve experiences and make them worthy of sharing.

This is your year…

2012 is the year for you to grow your small business while earning relevance among a growing class of connected consumers.

Regardless of technology, the future of business isn’t created, it’s co-created. To succeed, it takes a culture of customer centricity and the ability to recognize new opportunities and adapt based on what they present.

In the words of Charles Darwin, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”

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The End of Business as Usual is now available
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Originally published on Monster.com
Image Credit: RedKid.net