The following guest blog post is written by Ross Simmonds, a self described Modern-Day Adman, Entrepreneur and Blogger. Ross is passionate about digital marketing, the resurgence of cool and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter @TheCoolestCool.

Once in a while I get an email from a fellow blogger or small business owner expressing their lack of success in social media. I get to hear about posts written from a contrarian perspective, retweet to win contests that failed and even their failed attempts to write like Seth Godin.

After hearing these stories over and over again, I cant help but wonder when people will truly begin to understand how social media works. Because so many people still don’t get it, here are some harsh truths that need to be shared with the world. If you want to be successful using social media these are a few key things you need to remember.

Truth #1: You won’t get 1,000 Relevant Followers over Night.

Developing a following on twitter, Facebook or even YouTube is not an easy task. It’s a bit easier for household names like Audi, Starbucks or Stella Artois but for the average small business it’s no walk in the park.

The fact of the matter is, no one is waiting hour upon hour to see what [insert your brand here] has to say. However, that’s mainly because you have yet to develop a story that is worth being told and more importantly worth being heard.

When you think about what your target market wants you’ll have a better chance of finding success. Being selfish and always talking about how great you are will get you no where.

Truth #2: If you’re not measuring profits/revenues – Go away.

How can you accurately tell if your diet is working if you never look at yourself or at the number on a scale? You can’t. The same applies to social media. Sure you can guess and assume that things are getting better because you’ve seen a spike in visits to your site but is this really going to gauge your success? Not really.

You need to look at how much of your product is selling now compared to how much of your product is selling once using social media. Measuring things like click through rates, time spent on site, website traffic and number of connections on Facebook are pointless if you’re not seeing an increase in the bottom line. That’s right, I said it.

If you’re not measuring the bottom line then you’re wasting your time. Don’t be lazy.

Truth #3: Investing Time or Money is Required.

Why do you think social media is easy? Think about it for a second. If it was easy wouldn’t everyone be successful?

It’s not easy and the reason it’s not easy is because many of us are unwilling to invest time or money into it. When looking to reach social media success you need to invest either (1) your time or (2) the money for someone elses.

That’s right, social media is not free, it costs time and money. If you’re new to social media and are looking for a quick and easy way to get started here are a few tips:

  1. Create a Content Plan: If you start running full steam ahead into blogging without a plan you’re going to get a rude awakening when you run out of things to talk about. Too many bloggers write for a couple weeks without a plan or vision and then get stumped and cannot come up with any more topics.
  2. Build a Network: Develop a network of people online who will be willing to share and distribute your content. The best way to do this is to develop strong relationships online and empower your community to share your work, posts, deals or whatever else is being put out from your social media channels.
  3. Write your Content: This is obvious but it’s the toughest thing to do. This is when you take a look at your content plan and begin creating the posts found in your content plan. Once you have a backlog of 10 or so posts feel free to start publishing them and keep on writing. The content plan and backlog of posts will work as a safety net and allow you to ensure that your blog is always producing fresh and new content to it’s community.
  4. Launch your Blog: The best way to launch a blog is to build some hype or buzz about the site prior to launch. I’d recommend using a service like Launch Rock before going live so you can develop a mailing list of people who are already intrigued or brand evangelists. Once you’re about to launch, let everyone know what’s going down and spread the word to the masses!

Truth #4: Social Media cannot save a Brutal Business.

Some businesses simply cannot be saved through social media.

If your customer service sucks – Social Media can help. If you need a better online presence – Social media can help. If you need to share your message with a relevant audience – Social media can help. But if your business is dying because the customer simply doesn’t see value in your business, social media wont save you.

Truth #5: No one is on your Facebook page because your content sucks.

If you think you can build a Facebook page, blog, twitter profile or YouTube channel and suddenly start winning like Charlie Sheen, you’re mistaken. The content on these channels need to be compelling enough to come back to and remarkable enough to share.

An example of a boring product that found great success is the story of “Will it Blend.”

Truth #6: Your tweets are annoying.

The constant updates about you, you, you and you are driving your fans insane. Stop talking about yourself 100% of the time and start focusing on building a relationship with your connections.

The content that you’re putting out to your community should be determined by your social media strategy. I believe that all content should fall under one of three different categories. That is, every post you send out should be one of the following: Engaging, Entertaining or Educating.

Truth #7: If you’re not using social media. You will lose.

While all of the above may make you a little bit scared to jump into the social media space the reality is you need to. It’s no longer optional for consumer based businesses to live solely in the real world and ignore the web. You show me a business and I can show you a way that they could benefit from using social media.

The days where you needed big budgets to effectively connect with consumers are over. With the rise of social networks like twitter and the current geolocation boom, it’s becoming easier and easier for brands to connect with a relevant audience. The fact of the matter is, if you’re not doing it, your competitors will.

Your fate is in your hands.

Of course, visit the Bad Rhino blog for constant updates on everything social media-related.