Small business owners have a lot of worries when it comes to using social media for their business, and rightfully so. Many entrepreneurs wonder if the time spent is really worth it, and others cannot help but wonder if there is a way to monetize the time spent.

The Huffington Post says that social media is here to stay. It’s no longer a question of whether a business should create a presence, it is when and how that presence will be made. So, what should you do to get off on the right foot?

Start by always remembering, and focusing solely on, the most important value proposition and monetization opportunities social media offers: reaching prospects and customers where they are and how they want to be reached.

Second, keep in mind that the concepts behind social media are nothing new. In the old days, I went to Smith Hardware because my friends knew Smith, or we were neighbors, or went to school together. In the new world, we go to Smith Hardware because we are members of the same online communities, follow each other, or comment on each other’s blogs. The last 50-100 years of one-way mass marketing, positioning and messaging are the aberration. The Cluetrain Manifesto lays it out: markets are conversations.

Image from Mike Licht