Hmm. Vampires. Poker. Mafia Wars. No wonder it
Hmm. Vampires. Poker. Mafia Wars. No wonder it's hard to get one's hands around the online interests of today's social media consumers.

It seems like everybody is jumping into the social-networking pool.  You know: the world of Facebook, Twitter, interactive blogs and the like.

Problem is, not everybody - and especially not companies, who think it would be a shrewd business move to dive in - knows how to swim.

In their book "The Social Media Survival Guide," now in its second edition, consultants Sherrie Madia and Paul Borgese report that 73 of the Fortune 100 companies have Twitter accounts - more of than 500 among them. But better than half are not even active, and several have been simply abandoned.

In this exploration of social networking, Sherrie
In this exploration of social networking, Sherrie Madia and Paul Borgese argue that companies have no choice but to dip into that fluid, often confounding world.

The authors explain that eager executives often start podcasting, tweeting, and posting videos - or pay someone to do it - with no strategy and no idea who their audience is. They slap up press releases or self-serving promotional messages rather than giving social-media users and friends well-written stories and information that they can actually use.

Madia and Borgese point out that the millions of Internet users who have profiles on online social networks expect to be informed and entertained, not bombarded with product promotions and sales pitches aimed at the masses. And tweeters and those who comment on podcasts expect individual replies.

All of this sounds like an awful lot of work for companies, the authors write. It is.

In short, write Sherrie Madia and Paul Borgese in "The Social Media Survival Guide," companies that don't want to drown in these deep waters - and look foolish doing it - had better get educated, take the training seriously, and test the waters with what the authors call a mini social media campaign before going all in.

"The Social Media Survival Guide" is published by Full Court Press.