At the risk of stating the obvious, social Media is social.  It’s social and because it needs to be  interactive it’s high maintenance. It’s a new way of networking….for brands and businesses.  As such, there should be  a considerable amount of investment earmarked to be successful in this arena. The definition of social media differs from every business’ perspective. For some it’s Facebook and Twitter, others it’s LinkedIn or Google+, or YouTube and Pinterest…. to name only a few. Regardless of perspective, social media impact on brands and business is building significant momentum. It has grown and there’s no sign of that momentum capping any time soon.

You already know that if you are managing a brand, a business, local or international, you must find and exercise your voice within this channel. Now that you have your space in the social media environment, you can now exercise social media influence. Building a solid community is a must. It’s important that you create a community that is relevant for your brand and business.

Here’s a short list of what you should consider when establishing a social media presence for your brand or business:

1) Determine the why. Understand why your brand or business needs to be in the social media space. And no, you guessed it,  “because everyone else is there” isn’t enough of a good reason. It’ll help if you write the pros and cons of participating in this channel.  Note, I did say participate. Social Media isn’t complacent.

2) Establish  goals. Don’t just go at it! Is it important to build a 10,000 strong community? If s,o understand why it’s important. Establishing how your brand or business will define success in this channel is important to get future support and budget allocation towards this channel.

3) Be strategic. Don’t go for broke! If you can’t do all the properties, then just do 1 or 2 very well. Social Media demands time… and each property you engage in, needs attention and initiatives to build a community.  Investigate the different properties (ie: Facebook, Pinterest, podcast, blogging), and understand how each of them can or can not benefit your brand and business. Like with every advertising budget, understanding the efficiencies of a property and its associated costs will offer direction on what to do and not do .

4) Engage Regularly! There’s a rhythm to any social media property you choose to take part in.  You must walk the talk. Too many brands and businesses have a Facebook Page and don’t post regularly (and that is the key). That’s why you must not only intend to post consistently… you must plan it. If you don’t, then save yours business money;   don’t be on Facebook!  Same goes with having  a Business Page on LinkedIn and not leveraging it. If you decide to create a forum, or blog, of newsletter, but don’t regularly post… then what’s the point? Social Media isn’t about observing, it’s about engaging!

5) Set Initiatives and Budgets. Have a realistic plan… and stick to it. It’s important to earmark funds to build momentum to set up a worthwhile community for your brand or business. It takes effort, time and dollars to build “critical mass” in order for your brand to get social!

Marketers know that social media is a staple in the new media subset and should be considered as much an advertising channel as billboards, TV, print, radio and direct mail– with the distinctive advantage of enabling a continuous dialogue flow with a brand’s market… providing information, insights and influence. To my point of view,  high maintenance or not, social media for brands and business is no longer a nice to have, but a need to have.