5 Tips for Managing Social Media Marketing Expectations (as written for the AMEX Open Forum)

2. Build a Social Media Foundation for the Long Term

Since you can't expect quick wins, stop treating social media as a way to win favor and gain immediate exposure. Instead set yourself up for ongoing success and a continually rewarding experience by creating a solid foundation that is actively maintained.

Your social media marketing strategy should be forward thinking, and as such, needs to be structured in a way that you have an online presence that works for you. If you want long-term success, your foundation needs to be strong, which means you need to be using social media tools day in and day out, sharing and connecting with other users, being selfless at times, and staying consistent.

If you have a blog, update it several times a week with new content that really serves your audience. If you tweet, make sure to actively seek out people you can connect with by using Mr. Tweet, Twitter directories like WeFollow, or Twitter searches for industry keywords. Also, start following the bloggers and press people who cover your sector. They may not follow you back, but if you pay attention to their tweets (and reply from time to time), you can learn about what interests them and fine tune your blogger pitch strategy.

The same holds true for any of the other social media properties. The way to build a foundation is to stay consistent, genuinely work at building new relationships every day, and starting to share new or helpful tidbits and resources with followers and friends.

Many of us Mashable writers are also contributing content to the American Express OPEN Forum as experts. I wrote this piece (this is just tip #2) to help businesses just getting started with social media keep their expectations in check.

I've experienced first hand how good people with good intentions can go awry with their social media marketing efforts, so these tips are based on real-life scenarios and best practices learned over time.