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It's no surprise that as social media sites and tools grow in popularity with customers, that companies are considering following them into this space. But for businesses that want to wade into the social media waters looking for customers, bring your sense of commitment, more so than your wallet.

At last week's Digital Marketing Mixer, Gary Vaynerchuk had this interesting quote about companies not wanting to invest time in this space, during his keynote:

The problem is, these companies don't want to work. I get it. I'm a consultant, I get it! You come in, you do this, you do that....they'd much rather give an agency $100,000 to run ads in the New York Post, commercials, pizza boxes, direct mail, and Stern radio ads, and they're done, right? They're clowns, don't feel bad for them. Let them die!

Ah you gotta love GaryVee! But he's right, many companies don't want to invest time and energy into forging connections with their customers via social media. Many want to simply start up a blog or Facebook page, maybe give some free stuff to bloggers, and wait for the sales avalanche.
If your company wants to be successful in using social media, then here's what you need to do; Use these tools in the same way your customers do, and for the same reasons.
Don't have a firm or consultant set up a blog or Twitter account for you so you can broadcast. Take the time to invest in learning how your customers are using these tools, and more importantly, why. Spend time getting to know your customers and interacting with them.
Social media requires a long-term commitment. You can't "buy" credibility in this space, you have to be here for the long-haul. Leave your wallet at the door, and invest the time it will take to build the connections to your customers. Take the time to give a damn about getting to know these people, and letting them get to know you.
That's how you win with social media.

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image of Mack Collier

Mack Collier is a social-media strategist based in Alabama. He helps companies build programs and initiatives that let them better connect with their customers and advocates. His podcast, The Fan-Damn-Tastic Marketing Show, discusses ways that brands can turn customers into fans. His first book, Think Like a Rock Star: How to Create Social Media and Marketing Strategies That Turn Customers Into Fans, was published in April 2013 by McGraw-Hill.

Twitter: @MackCollier

LinkedIn: Mack Collier