If you’re not already using social media for your business, then you’ve fallen behind the majority of your rivals. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and LinkedIn are already helping companies to increase brand awareness, attract new leads and engage with customers.

The good news is that it’s never too late to start (or fix) a social media campaign. The bad news? As Forrester Research analyst Nate Elliott points out: “The sobering reality is that, nearly a decade into the era of social media, more social marketers are failing than succeeding.”

Why? Because success isn’t defined by the number of ‘Likes’ you’ve amassed or how many followers your company Twitter feed has. Those are vanity numbers, and easily manufactured. They don’t necessarily help you to attain your business goals.

It’s all-too-easy to get social media wrong, and to waste valuable time and money on a campaign that has no aim or direction. The question is: how do you get it right?

What can social media do for your business?

Data from Experian Hitwise UK says that: “22% of all time spent online in the UK in 2012 was spent on a social network.” What business wouldn’t want to reach this audience? Talk to this audience? Sell to this audience?

As the effectiveness of online advertising decreases, social media marketing can help you increase the awareness of your brand, build authority and trust. According to Forrester data, “Some 70% of US online adults trust brand or product recommendations from friends,” while in comparison, “just 10% trust ads on websites.”

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