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"I want a bike, but I don't want to learn how to ride it."

If I said this to you, it would be a ridiculous statement, right? 

Many business folk know they need to be a part of the social media community despite not knowing how to best use it or why they should be there in the first place.

They like the carrots that are being dangled in front of them. This is a good motivation, but must be met with a sober gameplan - we know nothing in life comes for free.

When faced with the idea that their company may have to do some structural work in order to truly benefit from social media, many looks of initial excitement quickly turn to frowns of reluctance. 

They want the sizzle sans the steak. Fame and glory is attractive, but often doesn't come without the effort or smart work to put you there.

Will you change for me/us?
So many businesses know that they want to put social media to use, but they aren't willing to look at their own business model and possibly alter it for the best of their audience.

Social media is not a simple snap-in, modular marketing tool. It must be examined for what it is - a cultural phenomenon. What will your company do to adapt to the social, connected masses and their (sometimes fickle) behavior?

A sound understanding of the fundamental aspects of social media as well as an ability to adapt to the whims of the audience are base requirements for any company that wants to use social media properly. 

To compare a YouTube video to a TV commercial would be as foolish as comparing a car to a bicycle. They both contain video content, but that's where the similarities end. 

A YouTube video is part of a larger framework of social, cultural web use. It begins with search engine optimization, viral potential (if any/desired), inbound/outbound links, ratings, and chat commentary. 

The technology behind social media is fast, flashy, often brilliant, but it is the least substantial part of what makes it run. Businesses are used to adapting to technological requirements - it's all in the transfer of data, and that's exactly where most misunderstand what needs to be done to truly adopt social media and put it to good use.

8 Ugly Truths
A few of the many important questions that must be answered in the strategic planning phase. I call them ugly truths because the answers represent the work that must be put in before the fun begins:

1. Who is in charge of listening (monitoring conversation) for your brand and in the communities you need to participate in? Where can employees access the information they gather?

2. Who will be chiefly responsible for your content?

3. What is your content approval process, if any?

4. What plan of action is in place to deal with potential problems?

5. How will you enable the messaging to contain the brand?

6. How will messaging be managed companywide to avoid overlap, dilution and ensure an efficient synchronous communication?

7. What are the guidelines for personal vs. company network uses?

8. Metrics? Who will manage this?

Since social media is so completely different from any other type of media it requires a strategic structuring from your business. When you can answer the above questions at minimum you have begun to structure the relationship-builiding aspects of your business from the inside out. Until then you might just want ride the bike.