In today’s technology-based world, social media is a crucial aspect of your marketing campaign. Think about it, everyone has a Facebook account, a Twitter handle, or a LinkedIn profile. And now, with smart phones proliferating the market, all of these social networks can be accessed with the touch of a button anywhere in the world (well, anywhere that has signal). This being said, DIY marketing strategies have embraced social media as a tool that can project their brand across the planet, no matter how large or small their company may be. To become a household name organizations no longer have to be the biggest, most lucrative in the industry – they just have to know how to use Twitter.

It naturally follows that social networks are something that you need to become involved in; however, there are many horror stories of brands being ruined by poor social media skills, stories that you want to avoid reliving at all costs. So how do you build your brand across the range of social media applications without ruining the reputation of your company? The process is simple, but it takes hard work and a lot of patience. When you get it right, though, all of the effort will certainly pay off.

Susan Gunelius recently wrote an article on Entrepreneur about a similar topic that provides a jumping off point for our own discussion. Her article can be found here.

  1. Know your target demographic. Some social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter, are used by a wide variety of individuals and can be confidently incorporated into any social media campaign. Other sites should be investigated before committing a great deal of time to them.

Consider this scenario: you have opened a teen clothing store, geared toward kids aged 12 to 18, and want your social media efforts to speak directly to your target shoppers. In this case, LinkedIn is most likely a lost cause, as these customers will probably not be involved with this social networking site. Does this mean that you ignore LinkedIn completely? No – the site can still connect you to others in your industry; however, you do not want to focus all of your attention on this account, simply make an informative page and check up on it regularly.

  1. Appoint a social media manager. Your brand must be consistent in voice and your accounts must be maintained regularly, so the best way to ensure that your campaign runs smoothly is to have one person handle it. Remember that this will take up a good deal of time and, while it may not be generating income now, it will eventually, so be sure to give the individual enough time to truly work on the project. Only choose someone you trust to work diligently, though, because the Internet is full of distractions.

When you go over this project with your social media manager, be sure that you communicate the image you wish to build clearly. For example, some companies simply post links to their website and to other important information, while others open up a dialogue with their friends and followers. The best approach is one that is natural, which brings us to point 3.

  1. No one wants to hear you promote your business all the time. Social media is about getting the word out, true, but it is not about shameless self promotion. Share some links to your brand, some updates on sales or specials that are currently going on, but also share links and information that you think your followers will be interested in. Be careful to keep this professional, though. The last thing you need is an inappropriate link under your business’ name.

Most importantly, be a real person on the other end of the computer, be someone that can relate to followers and open a discussion with members of the target demographic. This will earn their trust and, ultimately, their business.

  1. Consider starting a blog. Blogger, WordPress, and Tumblr are all ways for you to enhance your brand and really illustrate the core values of your company. Posts should be made regularly and should pertain to important issues that readers will face. Remember, do not just promote your company – offer entertaining and informative information that will have people looking forward to the next post. These also, as Gunelius mentions in her article, provide additional entry points for consumers.

The most important aspects of building your brand through social media are to remain visible and consistent. By doing these key things, you should attract the attention of consumers who will eventually begin to invest in your company. Remember, though, that this is not just about driving sales, this is about building a relationship with a community. Doing so may not cause your monthly revenue to spike, but it will cause your organization to have a more positive reputation and to be trusted by a larger amount of consumers.

Terry Crenshaw covers economic trends in the United States and writes for Terry is especially interested in tracking the ideas of Peter Orszag and other economic experts as the economy attempts to recover from the recent recession.