The greatest mistake I see with social media is when a you attempt to use social media in the same way as traditional media. A business owner opens a twitter account, starts a blog, builds an email list and creates a Facebook fan page, only to inundate friends with sales pitch after sales pitch. As a result, mail lists are relegated to spam, fan pages and twitter accounts are blocked and blogs are ignored. What is missing is the reality that social media is NOT advertising. Advertising is advertising.
Social media is conversation, mutual interest, sharing of information, but it does not replace traditional advertising nor should it be confused with traditional advertising.
If you want Social Media to work for you, keep these three key points in mind:
1) it must be informative
2) it must add value
3) it must be either entertaining or engaging
4) it should be sincere
Social Media is a conversation and the goal is to build relationships, not sell widgets. If you want to be in social media, you have to put away the motivation to sell and get into the conversation. It is a community, and once you are established, building your business becomes a pleasant by-product of an authentic self rather than the goal. Be authentic, accountable and interesting and social media will most certainly become one of the most important tools in your media toolbox.
Tools in this trade will change, of that I am certain, however, relationships will remain. The key is to cultivate those relationships as part of your business and your social life.