Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...
Image via CrunchBase

Online social media networks are becoming very important to the people we want to reach. For the week ending March 13, Facebook was reported as the most visited Web site in the U.S. This was the first time it surpassed Google for an entire week!

No wonder more and more business professionals are using social media. But it does take time. To make sure you’re using that time well, here are some tips to get the most out of online networks.

1. Keep your eye on the goal. The ultimate goal in using a social media platform is to get involved in conversations that create online relationships or produce followers for your business.

2. Schedule specific times for social media each day. Experts suggest spending 30 minutes on social media in the morning after checking emails and 30 minutes later in the day. It may be hard at first to do everything you want in 30 minutes, but you will get more efficient as time goes on. Keeping to an hour a day means you’re not taking time from the other important things you do for your business.

3. Use a social media drip marketing site. This lets you easily post links to multiple social media networks. An example is

4. Maintain a source list. This has the top 10 sites you visit for content — news sites, recreational sites, your own Web site or blog. Visit these daily for links to content you want to share.

5. Post useful content daily. Mix items of personal interest with items of business interest.

6. Act interested. Take a few minutes each day to comment on things your friends or fans have posted.

7. Be interesting. Post cool photos, ask thought-provoking questions, share surprising facts and insights. Social media is like a dinner party. Be the guest everyone wants to talk to.

And remember, practice makes perfect. You don’t have to spend lots of time on social media, but do put some time into it every day. That’s how to make it a client and prospect touchpoint with real marketing power.