It seems like 2012 was the year of social media. Not only did we have even more new players, but there was more pressure than ever for businesses to get on the bandwagon of posting and tweeting to their market.

And just when it seemed that your average business owner managed to get their Twitter and Facebook accounts put together, Pinterest and Google+ showed up on their radar. Not to mention that Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn all had facelifts, meaning previous profiles needed a tune up.

Every time I spoke this year the #1 burning question remained the same – “How am I, the small business owner, supposed to keep up on all this stuff and how is it going to help me get more business?”

I would say that 2012 was more accurately “the year of social media tools maturing in the small business marketplace”, but 2013 is definitely the beginning of an Online Renaissance. A time when business owners can finally find their voice and yell their message from the online rooftops.

Stop worrying about where you should be online and how long a post should be. That will overwhelm you rather than motivate. Instead, start thinking of what your passion, your company and you can bring to the table to help your target market.

You have the ability to become the “new” media. You have the ability to influence people in a positive way. You have the ability to make a difference. Isn’t that really why you got into your business to begin with?

So what is the key to successful social media in today’s environment? Create a strong strategy instead of focusing or worrying about the tactics. Leverage social media.

As less and less people are turning on their television sets, or reading blogs and magazine websites in lieu of regular old print, the influence of traditional media is giving way to bloggers and what’s trending on Twitter. Start thinking strategically about what you want to post and not so much about which site that’s going to happen on.

How can you do this?

Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, authors of the New York Times bestseller “Trust Agents”, launched their latest book in 2012 called “The Impact Equation”.  They talk about the concept of pretending you own a TV channel, and building your strategy for social media by thinking about what types of programs you would air. Are you NBC, MTV, FOX News, Comedy Central, or Lifetime? Each channel is distinct—you tune in because you’re looking for a certain kind of TV show. That’s how your social media should work: Customers will tune in to you because they’re looking for a certain kind of content.

Maybe one program (or series of posts or categories) is “interesting clients”. Another might be a “how to” show. Yet another might be a talk show that shares conflicting opinions on a specific topic. How about the daily or weekly news?

The premise here is that if you focus on your passion and everything you can bring to the table to share that passion, the followers and customers will follow. Remember: people are smart and savvy shoppers. They will buy from you because they like and trust what you are standing for, not because what you’re offering is the cheapest.

So find that voice, get excited about it and get it out there and share it. People are dying to tune in and start watching!

AvatarCidnee Stephen

Cidnee Stephen is the owner of Strategies for Success, a marketing company that focuses on the needs of budget minded small businesses and professional services. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.