There's a brilliant Canadian who helped Barack Obama win the US Presidential Election by using social media strategically.
Her name is Rahaf Harfoush and she wrote a book on the topic (Yes We Did: An Inside Look at How Social Media Built the Obama Brand).
Her expertise can be applied in business, especially in companies who are just starting with social media. Here are suggestions from the Q&A session of a talk she gave in Toronto.
Question: With all that's out there in the social media world, how do I get started with Social Media for my organization?
a) First figure out what you want to do as an organization.
Is it raise awareness, engage with customers, generate leads, or something else? Social media can be used to many ends, so it's important to figure out first what end you have in mind.
2) Identify your resources and a realistic work plan.
It's easy to think, "Hey, let's launch a blog, a Facebook page and get set up on Twitter. We can have the intern manage it - he's young and adept at this technology stuff so he can probably do it all in a few hours a week."
Rahaf advised that it's a good idea to break all the tasks down into hours - how many minutes to write a blog, how many blogs per week; how much time to read and respond to others' blogs and comments; how much time on Twitter and monitoring other channels.
Only then will you have a good idea of the right resources you'll need to execute well.
3) Only do what you can do really really well.
With step 2 in mind, be realistic and set out to do 1 or 2 things really well. Then you can go from there.