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Nobody knows the precise future of social media, only that there will be one — and that it likely will be more powerful, radical and invidious (creepy, too, perhaps) than it already is.

Think about it: Where do you go after accumulating 100,000 friends on Facebook and 2.5 million followers on Twitter except on to the Next Big Thing, upon the invention of which the world awaits. Experts like 28-year-old Jason Sadler, founder of IWearYourShirt.com (a social-media site whereby Sadler wears a different company T-shirt every day and blasts out related creative content), believe a new and improved social zeitgeist is coming soon. Until that time, though, we picked his brain about how those who’d like to join the current conversation can make the most of it. What’s the greatest misconception of the social-media trend? That you can be an overnight success. You have to think of it like a business; it takes time to develop.

Shameless Self-Promotion Speaking of social media, American Way has launched a new blog, named OnTheFly. It’s designed to keep you informed on the most important trends, product releases and travel news happening every day. Plus, we have giveaways — who doesn’t like free stuff? So, bookmark it: americanwaymag.com/blogs
How much time and money should you invest in it? Smart companies hire people to be on social-media sites 24/7; that’s how much time and money you should invest. … The more you put in, the more you’ll get out.

What should a person or a business set out to accomplish through the medium? Number one is customer service, that’s the goal. Not to sell tickets or products. Use social media as a venue to get issues resolved and questions answered immediately.

What about branding yourself or your company through social sites? You can, but it’s much more difficult. There are more efficient ways.

Your admonition to someone delving into this for the first time is: Be authentic. Do it yourself or hire someone. People respond to people, not to robots or automated responses. And keep content contextual to your company and purpose. Integrate links to video and pictures into your messages. Research shows those get clicked on more than 50 percent of the time.

What else should you do to augment the social-media effort? Think about what you were doing to keep people happy before this movement took off and do that as well. Use apps like Tweetie and TweetDeck to help keep the social aspect organized.

Quick Clicks
  • If Facebook were a country, its population of more than 500 million users would rank third in the world.
  • About 95 million tweets are sent every day.
  • YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the U.S.
  • 46% of companies planned to increase their budgets for social-media recruitment in 2010.
  • More than 73% of companies use social-networking sites to recruit employees; 9.3% were planning to start this year.
  • Sources: Facebook, Twitter, comScore, jobvite.com