A couple weeks ago I was on a panel at the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce annual goals conference, and the topic was getting noticed using social media amongst other tools. On the panel with me were a PR specialist, an Advertising specialist, an Email/direct marketing specialist, and me, not really a specialist (I detest the social media guru/expert term). The audience was made up of about 100 business owners from around Coral Gables, FL (a fairly wealthy enclave in South Florida).

So as our panel got rolling, lots of good questions kept coming in about best case uses for various pieces of technology, how we integrate these tools into our repertoire and so forth. I went through the usual rant about what social media should be to them (a component of what everyone else on the panel was an expert in). We talked about simple ways to integrate, and not overwhelm themselves. We also talked about some of the fears people have. It was interesting to see how this group approaches social media in particular considering their demographic (largely older crowd [avg age 50+], these are the people who OWN the businesses after all).

A few days later though I went to speak at a young professionals group (avg age ~27) about social media. I had gone in here expecting to have a completely different experience than the previous week’s talk. Surprisingly, these younger professionals shared many of the same trepidations that the older crowd had. The big difference was the higher % of personal users of facebook vs the chamber crowd.

Something struck me in both of these talks: all the social media advice you can give is just general good business advice. I realized about halfway through the second set that I wasn’t giving people social media specific advice, I was giving them startup advice. Everything I was telling people was tips I wish I had received as an entrepreneur, not a social media marketer. You can’t really tell people in generalized terms how to be successful at social media without teaching them how to be successful at business first.

I’ll do my best to outline the things I touched upon, but the gist of it is: research, plan, measure, and then adapt.