For brands, resistance to social media is futile. Millions of people create content for the social Web on a daily basis. Your customers have been using it for a long time. Your competitors have embraced it. If your business isn’t putting itself out there, it should be.

Gather intelligence. This goes hand in hand with Step 1, but you can’t really gather effectively until you’ve started the conversation that follows from Steps 2 and 3. Once you’ve established your own presence online, you can start to really learn exactly who your customer is and what they want. This is the revered Holy Grail of marketing: knowing customers better than they know themselves. You can achieve this through effective web reputation personale.

Social marketing results can’t be measured. There are a variety of methods and tools you can use for this, and more become available every day. You can monitor blog comments, mentions in the media, traffic stats, Facebook fans, Twitter followers, comments on your content, real-time blog advertising results, click-throughs to your Web site. The tools are out there, and the number of people who know how to aggregate and interpret the data is growing.

Create cohesion with your team. Everyone in your business needs to be on board, and in sync before you can begin. Your messaging should have a singular “voice”.

The shorts are going to use these kinds of words: scum, fraud, jerk, liar, psychopath, inept, stupid, incompetent, sleaze… you get the idea. A well-done off-brand or third-party blog can utilize these words so the search engines direct people to a positive blog rather than a negative one.

Gather knowledge. Harvest knowledge sources that you can use to draft blogs, and for posting on social sites. This will show your customers that you are knowledgeable and helpful.

Get a credit freeze. Click on the preceding link and follow the steps for your particular state. This is an absolutely necessary tool to secure your credit. In most cases, it prevents new accounts from being opened in your name. This makes your Social Security number useless to a potential identity thief.