While more and more small businesses are experimenting with social media marketing, many remain hesitant about wading into what they see as a public relations minefield. Social media marketing isn't near as scary as it can sound. Like anything else in life where you interact with other people, it simply takes some common sense, decorum and respect for those around you.

Thankfully, the marketers who have already been making their way through the social media world often have good advice for those who are new to the game. That's why, on the heels of the SMX Social Media conference in New York City, Search Engine Watch writer Eric Enge offers up 11 Guidelines to Social Media Success culled from the sessions he attended.

Eric offers up eleven great tips, but a few really stand out.

Discover their needs - Study the site and learn what type of content prospers in their environment. This acts as a second check to tell you that you have targeted the right social media site, and it also tells you something about how to present your content within their environment.

Learn the lingo and value system - This is just important. According to Rob Key, who spoke on Wednesday, each social media site begins to develop their own unique dialect. If you don't understand the basic dialect, you will stick out like a sore thumb to the regular users of the site.

Be patient - The big wins may well take some time to achieve. You are going to need to make up front investments to become a part of the community and figure out how to fit in. The right way to get the content you are trying to promote on the community site varies by social media site, but following the above guidelines will cause the people who come to know you to start following your stuff. You can also learn from them what is appropriate for that particular community.

One consistent theme through all eleven tips? Respect for the users in the community. From not wasting their time with bad information to speaking their language to understanding the investment of time social media requires, every last suggestion Eric offers up has it's roots in respect for the community.

Social media marketing is simple as long as you go into it with good intentions.

October 18, 2007

Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.

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Search Engine Guide > Jennifer Laycock > Not Quite a Dozen Social Media Guidelines