Social media is a great tool for businesses. But how do you get started? And how do you make sure you’re using it effectively?

Mashable offers a fairly simple, loose 5-step plan for getting started.
1. Listen. What are others saying about your organization?
2. Prepare. Who in your organization is appropriate to converse with others on behalf of the organization?
3. Engage. Go for it! Start getting out there and interacting on blogs, Twitter or whichever other social media site is appropriate for your field.
4. Go offline. Remember that face-to-face interaction is still often the best way to build strong relationships.
5. Measure success. What knowledge/relationships do you have now that you didn’t before?

This process is great for the PR practitioner because it gives a general overview of how to get started in the wild world of social media. Good luck and have fun!