Last year, social media overtook porn as the number one internet activity . So in the year ahead, it's essential for your business to optimize its social media marketing strategy. Here are five steps to get you started:
Resolution #1: Picture it on Pinterest.
Why not start with 2012’s lead social media story? Many have been slow to take advantage of the sudden surge of popularity of the latest online sensation--but the research numbers are too dramatic to ignore. In the past 12 months, Pinterest usage has grown by over 1000% , with the nearest competitor being Google Plus , at 80%. Make no mistake--Facebook is still the social media champ by a huge margin, but Pinterest’s marketing firepower is nothing to sneeze at. According to a recent study , fifty brands who did a Pinterest promotion found that it caused a 150% jump in followers.
Resolution #2: Don’t minimize mobile.
According to NBC News , the number of Facebook users who began accessing the site through tablets and smartphones jumped 24% from June to September of 2012--and is now well over 30 million. The company also put out a statement pointing to their increasingly mobile future: “…we anticipate that the rate of growth in mobile usage will exceed the growth in usage through personal computers for the foreseeable future and that the usage through personal computers may be flat or continue to decline in certain markets.” Mobile social media marketing requires a different approach  that respects consumers that are on the go and, at the same time, creates a positive engagement with them--so make sure you make that shift with your strategy.
Resolution #3: Transform customers into your sales force.
It was once again recently confirmed that, when it comes to recommendations for products and services, people trust other people similar to them  far more than any sophisticated marketing campaigns. For example, 92% of consumers listen to people they personally know, while 70% of them also trust online consumer reviews. After that, the numbers fall off sharply. The moral of this story? The more “fans” you create, the more “likes” you motivate and the more “shares” you inspire, the more success you’ll continue to experience--as others in your customers’ circles observe what their friends and relatives buy and follow suit.
Resolution #4: Take it inside, not just outside.
Many companies are creating their own internal social media networks to boost morale, share news, gain feedback and solicit ideas for improvement. For instance, Unisys CEO Ed Coleman created his own Facebook-style system  for employees and management to increase efficiency and keep everyone up to speed. The next generation of workers welcomes this kind of approach; they’re used to communicating online and want their workplace to encourage the practice. 
Resolution #5: Don’t disregard any demographic.
Many still make the mistake of considering social media usage strictly an under-30 activity. Yes, 92% of that age group is on Facebook, Twitter, and the like , but 57% of those 50 to 64 years of age and even 38% of those over 65 are also engaged on at least one social network. Should any marketer seriously consider ignoring that portion of a demographic? To quote Mike Bal of the Chicago-based agency, Baseline21 , “The biggest change we will see in the next year is that we are over the main hump on the adoption curve. At this point it’s not a specific demographic, it’s all of them from grandmas to elementary-aged children.”
Social media marketing  continues to be a fascinating field to watch, as it expands and evolves at a rapid pace and in unexpected ways. Its fast-moving force provides plenty of potential payoffs.
[Image: Flickr user Imagineerz ]