Over the last ten years the marketing landscape has changed dramatically. Whether or not you believe that "corporations are people," today's consumers expect businesses to interact with them as if they are. While traditional media is still the prime way to make potential customers aware that you exist (assuming "you" are a business), social media provides the opportunity to convert an "audience" into life-long patrons. That being said, throwing up a Facebook page and Twitter handle will do very little to enhance your business' online presence if you don't have two things: a strategy and a voice.
Developing a Social Strategy
While a key aspect of social media is interacting with people on a fluid, personal level, nailing down a core strategy will allow your business to hone it effectively. Ask yourself: "What do I want from this?" Maybe you're looking to drive traffic to your website or identify your target market. Perhaps you want to share content or interact with people one on one. For each social medium you use (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.) your goals may be different, as each is more suited to one type of strategy than others. Too often businesses decide to jump into the social media game with no strategy and then wonder why it isn't working for them. You need to decide HOW it should be working for you.
Finding Your Voice
In reality people use social media platforms to connect with people, not businesses. This is a disadvantage, but one that can be curbed into an advantage if you're able to develop a cohesive personality for your business. Creating a distinct identity and voice for your social media account(s) allows people to relate to you as a person, and eventually as a friend.
"A strong voice serves as the 'body language' of social media - people pay as much attention to it as what is actually being said."
It's important to note that social media isn't a crutch. It can't be used to cover up shortcomings in your business, marketing or otherwise. Quite the opposite, social media platforms are megaphones. They broadcast elements of your business (good and bad) to a wider audience. Diving into this new marketing landscape requires the different pieces of your online strategy to work together. However when they do, they can easily take your business to a new, exciting level.