Drew Neisser, founder/CEO of New York-based digital marketing agency Renegade, offers up three steps for social media success.

MARKETERS RUSHED INTO SOCIAL MEDIA IN 2009 LIKE GUNMEN INTO BANKS, looking for fast cash and a quick way out. Typically, this resulted in a bad experience for all parties and a premature determination that this “social media thing” just doesn’t pay out. To avoid such folly in 2010, marketers would be wise to follow these three basic steps to optimizing their social media ROI.

LISTEN. After 100 years of talking at customers via advertising, it’s finally time to heed the advice of our kindergarten teachers and learn to listen. Just listen to what your customers and prospects are saying about you, your brand, your category, their passions, their aggravations and their world in general.

You can listen on the cheap by using the Search function on Twitter or free daily alert services like Google Alert or Tweetbeeps. Avaya recently monitored a Tweet from a prospect asking about its brand and a competitor. An Avaya representative engaged this prospect via Twitter and closed the sale 13 days later!

LISTEN CLOSER. Assuming you foresee value in engaging your customers and prospects via social media, you may want to invest in more sophisticated monitoring services, such as Radian6 and Scout Labs. MolsonCoors uses Radian6 to stay on top of all the banter about its major brands, which allows the brewer to respond with remarkable speed to consumers who talk about its beverages.

EXPRESS YOUR POINT OF VIEW. Once you are in tune with the conversation, all you need is a crystal-clear point of view that warrants and guides your participation. This point of view can and should relate to your business — but not in an overtly self-serving way.

Many consumers are okay with the idea of brands participating in social media, but they are not interested in a sales pitch. What they want is your expertise, your advice, your attitude and, most of all, your point of view.

The reality is that consumers engage with brands that they like on a visceral level, and that provide a distinct perspective on the world. Aflac’s Duck quacks up a gaggle of quirky content, including charitable requests that appeal to over 161,000 fans on Facebook and 3,000+ followers on Twitter.

A brand by definition is a point of view that, once clearly defined, should guide all communications, social or otherwise. When all is said and done, a clear POV equals an equally clear ROI.

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