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Social Media Marketing is a method to influence the perception of your brand and company via social media channels. It is also used to interact with targeted people that could become your next customers. Social media is also a great way to increase targeted traffic to your website and at the same time increase your search engine rankings on Google.

Before you start creating your profile on popular Web 2.0 channels such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, take a bit of time to think on what you want to accomplish. How are you going to launch your social media marketing initiative?

Questions starting a SMM campaign

Purpose: What are you trying to accomplish with your strategy and what is your topic? Is it to get more sales? More links? More subscribers? Improved brand recognition online? Always settle on one primary purpose and a couple of secondary ones. Once chosen, tie these with realistic goals you want to accomplish.

Targeted audience: What do you really know about the audience that you want to reach? This goes really beyond their age, income bracket and education. What are they interested in? Where do they spend their time online?

Where’s your audience? Where are the conversations happening online? Are they on various blogs and forums? Are they looking for answers on LinkedIn or even YouTube? These are the channels where you want to start your campaign.

Participation: Each day, look at what is being said and become part of the community. The amount of influence you produce will really be based on how actively you join and contribute to the conversation. Join forum discussions, comment on blogs, retweet important tweets and be active on various social networks.

Monitor: Setup a couple of listening systems so that you can be notified of any brand mentions and messages. You can use Google Alerts which is a free service from Google where you can setup an alert system so that you are emailed as soon as someone mentions your name online. What you monitor and measure will be based on your goals and purpose. Always try to measure your overall progress towards the goals you want to achieve.