Brands know they need to do social media, but most really don’t know how to do it. Conversify's Aliza Sherman had some advice at today’s Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco. First, don’t trust the “experts.” “Don’t p

ay for anyone to certify you in this,” Sherman says. “Because nobody’s certified to certify you in it. And don’t use flowery language like ‘leveraging conversations’ in your strategy,” Sherman says. “Leave that to your MBAs."

When your brand is using social media, be honest. Do not pretend you are what you are not, and be transparent about who your social media people are. If they’re not invoked in product development or customer service, don’t let users think they are. But make sure consumers know that there’s a real person behind your social voice.

The most important thing for brands using social media is to drive consumer action.

“If your message has a call to action,” Sherman says. “People are often happy to act. Use them like a focus group, not for sales. Eventually it will lead to sales, but what you are building is a community of people who want to buy your products and tell others they should use your products.”

Something that brands do have to be careful with is intellectual property laws. Brands need to be careful when talking to the crowd that intellectual property laws are well documented, so that consumers can’t lay claim to IP.

Ultimately, if brands use social media correctly, they can turn fans into superfans, who will buy anything and do anything to promote the company. Identify your superfans and treat them well. For one company, Sherman selected 20 superfans and surprised them with a limited-edition handbag along with a survey to find out more about them, to find out who Conversify thought they were based on comments left on their Facebook wall.

They then asked if those users wanted to be brand ambassadors, who will be the first to get news of the company’s new releases.

“Lavish them with praise and inside information and they will be ecstatic,” Sherman says. “They become these incredibly loyal evangelists,” Shermans says. “It’s just people who want to talk to other people.”

“I’d rather have 100 engaged followers than 1,000 or 10,000 who ignore me,” Sherman says.

By Mark Alvarez