What is the biggest mistake companies of all sizes make when it comes to social media?

They engage in social media without carefully doing their homework—assessing their social media space and understanding the basics: who are their consumers, which social media tools they use, what they are saying, etc.

Before you open your Facebook account or write your first Tweet, you HAVE to assess the social media space around you, your competitors and your industry. Without doing due diligence, you set  yourself up for disappointment-and most likely-failure.

For example, you may discover that your consumers (or prospects) are all talking on LinkedIn and are nowhere to be found on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.   Guess what?  You need to shift your energies to LinkedIn whether you like it or not.

And sometimes—just every once in a while—you go to find your consumer on social media and you come up empty-handed.  That’s right. You find nothing. Your consumers are just simply not engaging in any social media.  At least not yet.

And If that is the case, does it make sense to spend time and effort on a social media programme? Obviously not!

I  just came back from speaking at an impressive New Media conference in Bucharest. The crowd was big (500+) and the interest was keen.  Everyone was talking about social media.  Everyone wanted to  know more—how to choose the appropriate tools, create an effective social media team and (as usual) measure ROI.

But its early days in Romania.  In presentation after presentation, the statistics told the bare truth—in Romania only a tiny sliver of the population (20-25 year olds)  is using social media.

Obviously this will change.  Within 12-18 months I predict that social media adoption will catch on with the older crowd in a big way.  But for the moment, social media is just beginning and –as in so many countries before it—the early enthusiasts are young.

So at the end of what was an exhilarating day, the light bulb in my head went on.  Maybe it isn’t the time for most Romanian companies to embark on social media.  Maybe they will need to sit tight for the next half year or so and wait until their consumers are engaging fully in the medium.

Before you begin to create a social media programme, spend the time to understand where your consumers/prospects are and what they are saying.  This is the first, non-negotiable step towards social media success.

If you want to learn about the 6 other frequent social media mistakes and how you can avoid them, you absolutely must sign up for the FREE  Unleashing The Power Of Social Media Webinar I will be conducting on November 19th at 2 convenient times: One at 9 am PST and the second at 6 pm PST  The webinar will be 70 minutes packed of free information and insights that you can put to use immediately.  Whether you are a Fortune 500 company, a solo entrepreneur or a non-profit organization, you MUST attend this phone call if you want to learn how to capture the social media wave.  Spaces are limited so sign up immediately at http://bit.ly/24eLOk