As you begin to make resolutions for 2011, please don’t add a line item to your list about “building relationships online” or “engaging with customers through social media” without putting some real thought into how you will do it, and most importantly how you will sustain it.

But even before doing that, think about why you want to do this, what you’d like to accomplish and how you will know if you’re doing a good job. In other words, make it make sense for you, and give yourself some goals.

I continue to see so many abandoned efforts that turn out to be a monumental waste of time in the end because there was so much energy and enthusiasm at the onset that waned quickly because the results weren’t instant.

And many times, there were no real expectations for results, at least not justified expectations rooted in reality. Just pie-in-the-sky numbers and stats created on the fly, or a series of guesses based on what someone “thinks” is acceptable.  Again, reality not included.

Any outreach or engagement efforts you start online should be for the long haul. And because overnight success stories are few and far  between, you need a plan.

So allow me to make this recommendation for your checklist:

“Develop a short and long-term plan for connecting with customers online. Define my goals and determine who I want to engage. Commit to spending some time out of each day to work toward this goal, and if I don’t have time to do it right now, revisit in 30-days.”

Yes, that was a bit long, but the idea is simple. Commit, or leave it alone until you can.

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