This time of year makes me chuckle. I love it in many ways as I am a geek and love planning – planning the healthy new meals that I’m going to make, planning how I’m going to keep all my receipts and check them against the monthly bank statement, and all those other things that will make me perfectly healthy, wealthy and organised by the end of the year.

I’m sure that social media will feature in many business resolutions for 2011 and as a social media fan that is great news; the more people (and companies) that get involved in social media, the more potential benefits there are from being involved with the community.
However, in the same way that people flock to the gym, put in a few half hearted visits and then find that the excuses from the previous year seem even more compelling, there is a real danger that many businesses will find themselves sitting there in the Easter break thinking, “well I gave it a go – I set up a twitter account and sent a few tweets….. but nothing happened“.

Getting our Mystic Meg crystal ball out, we predict that we will see lots of Twitter and facebook pages appearing this month, along with a few promotional tweets or wall posts. Then, in a few months time, their owners will be saying “OK, I have been ‘dabbling’ for a while now, when will I see the return for my time?“.

Why do we think this? Well, we’re seeing it more and more – businesses setting up social media accounts, broadcasting a message a few times in the hope that others will hear it and act on it, and thinking they’ve “done” social media. This is the equivalent of buying the cool gym gear and popping in once or twice to use the sauna, and wondering why you don’t lose weight. A little more is needed, both in terms of persistence and skill!

You need to be using the right combination of equipment to tone up the right bits – or in social media terms, be using the right platforms for the right reasons. You need to be able to show that your business is interested and is listening, as well as telling others about you. You need to establish an audience before you can expect them to listen and act.

So, we hope to see lots of “new faces” coming into the world of social media this month. But we’d also say – please don’t be a dabbler. Make sure you understand what you want social media to do for your particular business before you start, and genuinely have time to commit to it. If you’re not sure on either count, get help – you can start by working through some of the vast amount of free resources on the web, and take it from there.