Good question. And, of course, it depends on a number of factors.

First, does your ideal client use social media? While once this was a real factor, the adoption rate for social media is rapidly climbing in all age groups. Take Twitter for example, according to comScore, in December 2008 the 25-54 year old segment made up 65% of the site’s users. This was surprising and a bit of an anomaly as social media has traditionally been driven by the 18-24 and under 18 year old segments. The younger segments were the fastest growers in 2009 now making up about 30% of the users with the 25-54 year old segment accounting for 40%.

The second big factor in answering the SMM question is what type of business do you have? SMM has a more dramatic effect on some businesses than others. For example, businesses with established storefronts currently seem to have more success at generating store foot traffic than their service-based counterparts. Also, business to consumer (B2C) organizations are getting better traction with their social media marketing than business to business (B2B) organizations.

Third factor is all about you, and who is following you. There is an age-old question, if a tree falls in the woods and no one is there, does it make a sound? The same question can be asked about SMM, if you have no followers, and you Tweet or post a status, will anyone even notice? One of the big “tricks” to SMM is that you need to build a list of responsive and loyal followers. BUT, you have to have some history for people to care enough to follow you. The old cart and horse thing.

Sure, you can buy a following. But a following of 10,000 does you no good if they won’t respond to your message . There are a number of good and bad ways to get a following – the most effective way is initially to not even try to sell anything. Just provide helpful/useful information to the people you would like to attract (could these people be your ideal clients?).

So there’s no good reason not to get started with social media for your business. You can start slow if you want. Remembering that social media is all about relationships and connections, you need to get out there and build them by providing useful information and tips. Write to that ideal client as if she was in the room with you.

There is no good quick way to build a loyal group of fans or followers except by having a plan and being of value to them. It takes time, energy, and effort. And that is where we can help.