Follow these ten simple steps and you will be well on your way to being more connected, more plugged in, and more efficient in 2008.
#1 - Connect. Add 2 contacts per week on either LinkedIn or Facebook. It's a great way to connect with people and get opportunities flowing. If you simply add 2 people per week, that will be 102 new people per year that are in your network and who you can possibly work with. Time Spent: 1 hour per week.
#2 - Master a Forum. Find one active forum (check to see how often people are posting) in your niche and create a real profile there. Introduce yourself and get involved - use the private messaging features to introduce yourself to other influential members (DON'T sell). Once you have made contributions, then feel free to share your products or services with the other members of the forum. Time Spent: 2 hours per week.
#3 - Cut Down & Move Up. Get rid of most of the blogs in your feed reader. Unless you are running a site that relies on that latest news, you probably don't need to read hundreds of blogs each day. Instead, focus on a handful in your industry that are viewed as highly influential. Comment at least once per week on each of those. After a month, email the author to let them know how much you enjoy their blog. When you have something good that you are looking to build links to, email them. It's no longer a "cold-call" now. Time Spent: 5 hours per month. Time Saved: 10 hours per month not reading everything.
#4 - Meet a Digger a Day. Spend 15 minutes per day (during the week) contacting a new person from Digg via instant message and forging a bond. You can usually locate this information right on their profile page and add them to your IM program. This simple task will do more for your chances of success at Digg than anything else you can ever do. Trust me. Most of the active diggers also have profiles on a lot of the other social networks, so you are killing many birds with one stone. Time spent: 15 minutes per day.
#5 - Get Universal. Take advantage of Google Universal with video optimization. Create 1 video for your business and put it on YouTube. Build links to it. Hey, if a chiropractor can do it , so can you. Time Spent: 5 hours to create the video and 5 hours to get links to it.
#6 - Think Globally. For each submission that you make to Digg or reddit - use the same exact title and description and translate it to Spanish and submit to meneame (a "Spanish digg") and Scoopeo (a "French digg"). You'll be surprised at how much traffic and links they can generate (and you don't even have to translate your content). Use a quick translator to make this super easy. Time Spent: 10 Minutes Per Submission.
#7 - Focus. Stay away from the over-hyped, all-purpose social networks that don't drive traffic or influence people. They are out there and they want to suck your time up. Don't let them. If they can't get you decent traffic or links, don't waste your time. This is why it's so important to track your work closely and make sure you see where results are coming from. Time Saved: Countless Hours.
#8 - Answer. Answer 5 questions per day in your niche on Yahoo! Answers. Link drop to one of your sites every 5th answer. Time Spent: 15 Minutes per day.
#9 - Join the Conversation. Once per day, use a tool such as Google Blog Search or Serph to search for your name and your company. See where people are talking about you and join in on the conversation. Time Spent: Varies on your company, but should be less than 20 minutes.
#10 - Year in Reviews. If you own a business or work for a client that does, there's a good shot that user generated reviews can play a big part in your life. Find out all of the places that are featuring your company and create a review there. Whether it's Amazon, Epinions, Yelp, CitySearch or Google Local, they should all have reviews of your company from the people who know it best. Time Spent: 15 minutes per review + 5 minutes per day asking customers and contacts for reviews.
By embracing this holistic approach to social media marketing, you can accomplish so much for your business and spend less than five hours per week doing it. There will be other factors that come into play (creating linkbait, writing blog posts, etc), but by sticking to core basics like this you will have a strong blueprint for social media success in 2008!