No doubt about it, buzzwords—from viral to meme to mashup to social media itself—abound. As Hugh Macleod joked in a recent Twitter post, "Pretty soon we'll have 'Social' prefixing everything: Social Marketing, Social Communicating, Social Cornflakes."

Yet, despite all the talk, the mainstream media coverage, the conferences, courses, and books on social media marketing, there's quite a bit of ambivalence, fear, and sometimes outright hostility directed toward social media by CMOs, CEOs, and CFOs.

All of this leads to the dreaded "we just want to stick our toe in the water, and see what this stuff is all about" and "we want to do a small, low-budget social media project and track the ROI."

Danger, Will Robinson!! Danger, Will Robinson!!!

Social media isn't a one-shot deal

Social media isn't a technique, a short-term project, an experiment, an event, a one-shot deal, or a quick fix. It's not something you throw money at, and using it doesn't guarantee sales or influence.

Social media is a set of tools that can help you make your company or your products or your services what people recommend to other people who trust their judgment.

Those tools provide absolutely anyone to establish credibility and gain trust. And the information, good or bad, that's created and shared with those tools stays in search engines forever.

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B.L. Ochman is a social media marketing strategist for S&P 500 companies, including McGraw Hill, IBM, Cendant, and American Greetings. She publishes What's Next Blog and Ethics Crisis, where readers can confess their worst ethics transgressions and others can rate them on a scale of one to ten. She also blogs for MarketingProfs Daily Fix Blog.