I'll always remember my high school economics teacher, Mr. Dilk. Aside from his hilarious self-censorship when it was obvious he wanted to curse (?Well … BUGS!?) his repetitive use of cliches actually managed to drive certain bits of wisdom into my hormone-addled brain. Among his favorites:
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
Now, this is before the invention of those awful motivational posters with pictures of whale tails and people climbing mountains you see in every corporate office. The dispensation of sage advice was the territory of your parents, teachers, and PBS. Despite the hackneyed nature of such counsel, this one stuck with me.
Now in my professional life, planning takes up a significant portion of my time, and for good reason. When putting together a content and social media strategy, the single most important task is to establish which platforms and services are most useful for your needs and plan your approach accordingly.
Not only does taking a willy-nilly approach dilute your brand personality, it's also financially wasteful. Without an accurate accounting of what's been done where–and the time spent doing it–your online efforts are a complete waste of time and money.
Any digital shop worth their salt will pitch you their planning process. If they don't, ask them about it. If they hem and haw or outright don't have one, run away. You will find your online marketing budget shrinking and have nothing much to show for it besides canceled checks.
To that end, if your company is in a position to go it alone in the digital space, I highly recommend you look at CMO's Guide to the Social Landscape. It's basically a social media cheat sheet to the benefits and shortcomings of the top platforms and services. The analysis was performed by 97th Floor, and it's a great one-sheet resource guide.
There are numerous social network services out there; no single one is the right one, just as trying to utilize all of them isn't effective. There is no one answer, no single social media content approach that works for every client. By engaging in thoughtful, constructive planning, you make the best use of your time and money.