If this is your year to buckle down and tackle a social media strategy, it’s time to get serious. The time for oohing and ahhing is rapidly drawing to a close, and instead your efforts have to become about practical, methodical application.

Here’s 10 ways to get serious about social media this year. There are plenty more, too. Add yours in the comments.

1) Quit counting fans, followers, and blog subscribers like bottle caps. Think, instead, about what you’re hoping to achieve with and through the community that actually cares about what you’re doing.

2) Learn how to measure stuff, and quit making excuses for why you can’t do it. Katie Paine’s blog is overflowing with stuff. Here’s some metrics you might consider if they’re applicable for your goals. And here’s how you can start setting measurable objectives.

3) Learn what case studies can and can’t do for you. Stop saying there aren’t enough of them and go Google the term “social media case studies” or spend a few minutes on my Delicious links. Then, get busy writing your own.

4) Understand the difference between making a business case for social media and chasing the next and greatest fad. If you don’t understand how to explain where social media impacts areas outside the business besides your own, make a concerted effort to learn.

5) Stop lauding social media as the thing that’s going to fix it all. Fix your business first. And read Jay Baer’s blog (including this post) for a reality check.

6) Approach social media methodically, and with the same care that you would any other business investment you make. Tamsen McMahon will help.

7) Quit waiting for the water to be perfect before you get in. It’s not going to be, ever. Try something that makes strategic sense for your business. Julien Smith articulates a bit about why waiting for one tiny thing is often what holds us back.

8 ) Think long term, and commit to it. That doesn’t mean some of your experiments can’t be finite, but the overall approach has to be for good. Mitch Joel even says so.

9) Focus on what you’re good at. Know the core of your business, and make that the center of your work, especially through the amplifier of social media. Chris Penn reminds us of the importance of this, as he’s apt to do.

10) Recognize that potential missteps shouldn’t paralyze you into inaction. Acknowledge that there are ways to recover from, say, a misguided communication effort. Having a plan to pick yourself up is the key, rather than trying to avoid failure at all costs (including stagnation).

What else would you add? What’s your buckle-down strategy this year, and how are you turning your approach from theory into application? Share your ideas, favorite posts, and strategies in the comments.

image by L. Marie

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