Social media blogger Rich Brooks says a lot of social media advice “is framed as ‘universal truths’ that every business must follow. But even the most good-intended advice is often off the mark when it comes to your business.” Check out some of these “rules” that you should question as you use social media for your own business.

1: You have to stay on message. You know who stays on message? Politicians and boring corporations. I’ve bonded with people over zombies. Friends tweet me zombie news, and I’ve even received several zombie-themed gifts at events. It seems strange, but the undead have helped me make new connections and opened new opportunities that have led to business. Sharing your interests — whether it’s gardening, cooking or skydiving — will attract like-minded people to you and help build your network.

2. You need to have a lot of comments on your blog. Comments aren’t clients. They may make you feel good, but they don’t impact your bottom line. If comments are your business goal, then blog about politics, religion or American Idol. If growing your business is your goal, then focus on whether your blog appears in the search engines and delivers warm leads to your website.

3: You can’t measure social media ROI. Of course you can. There are “soft” numbers, such as how many people viewed your last YouTube video, how many people subscribe to your podcast, and how influential your blog is according to Technorati. It’s also easy to know how many Facebook friends you have, how many people follow you on Twitter, and how often your most recent blog post has been “dugg.” There are also “hard” numbers, such as the traffic social media and blogs send to your website and how much of that traffic converts into business. If your contact form asks, “How did you hear about us?” you may be seeing more people respond with, “I follow you on Twitter,” or “Your video came up in a Google search I did.”

Rich Brooks is president of Flyte New Media, a web design and Internet marketing company helping small businesses succeed with SEO, blogging, e-mail marketing, social media and websites that sell. For more information, go to www.flyte.biz

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