Courtesy urbn.com

Is it really good business practice to get on the bandwagon just because everyone else is doing it? Like a moth to a flame, you will end up losing more time and resources by blindly following the latest marketing trend. Resist the urge, and instead, devote yourself to articulating your product and brand strategy – what it is and what it is not.

1) Test and measure your needs
Here, the old adage applies, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” As of now, what social media channels are you working with? Active channels only. Dead accounts with profiles but no activity don’t count. Say your company has a presence with a consistent blog and Twitter that is managed by your CEO. That’s not a bad start. First, can you measure which of these is either 1) creating online dialogue or 2) creating leads or partnerships (these metrics are more telling than the simple follower or fan count). For the latter, those will take time to quantify – a year or more! With these results, you might even find that you can eliminate one that isn’t producing or redirect to a new audience, find a professional writer, etc. If your audience likes re-tweeting quick and easy micro-blogs, no need to spend hours writing blog posts.

2) Assess your resources and prioritize
The caveat to your toolkit is “Don’t bite off more than you can chew.” No need to give in to peer pressure and create a blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube channel, Tumblr, etc, etc all at once if you can’t create and manage enough (useful) content for them all. How big is your marketing team? One full-time person? Three part-time contractors? An intern?

First rule – don’t make it harder than it is! You don’t want to over-manage too many outlets and duplicate content that you can streamline. For instance, Facebook is getting better with automatically integrating website blogs into their feed.

3) Creator vs. Contributor
Your marketing efforts should reflect a healthy balance between “creator” and “contributor” – meaning you should generate content for your own blog while writing guest post for blogs on partner sites (and linking the two!). Your platform for doing so will also be determined by length – from short tweets, to tumblr photo or FB status updates, to full-length blogs and articles. These tasks will become much more manageable if you outline these posts in a calendar. If your industry is particularly volatile or fast-paced – do this every two weeks or so – but if not, every month or quarter will do. That does not mean scripting out tweets 10 days in advance (but that’s okay too!), but having a theme in mind for a fixed period will give your feed focus and add credibility to your expertise. For those of you with promotions and peak sale seasons, opt for focused banner and ad space with external expert bloggers in your industry. io9.com, a blog for sci-fi geeks(and its sister sites and themes managed under gawker.com) displays ads for related television specials and movie trailers. Foodgawker.com, a crowd-sourced “feast for the eyes” has cleverly placed adds buried amongst their appetizing photos.

The overall message is not to succumb to the pressures of creating pages and pages of content – but rather implementing a well-rounded presence online on diverse platforms.