Many businesses are interested in employing social media to their benefit but there are a number of challenges that make social media a challenging proposition.

One of them is making social media sustainable. As exciting as it can be to start using Facebook, Twitter and other popular social media websites, excitement usually wears off real fast and many businesses struggle to sustain their social media efforts.

Here are some tips for making sure your business doesn’t get social media burnout:

  • Start by listening. Before going native, observe. Get a feel for how people interact on the various social sites that you’re looking at and monitor what people are saying (if anything) about your company on them.
  • Evaluate. Based on what you’ve observed, evaluate what sort of direct participation makes sense for you. Perhaps social media will best serve as a marketing platform. Or perhaps it is better suited to a customer service function. Until you study social media and how it relates to your business, you won’t know.
  • Set goals. Social media (like SEO) may be a journey, not a destination but that doesn’t mean that you want to meander. By setting goals, you’ll make sure you don’t wind up going in circles.
  • Allocate resources. Most companies can’t afford to have an employee tweeting away all day. So you have to figure out what sort of commitment you can make given the resources you have. If you commit too much early on, you’ll eventually lose momentum and people will notice. By allocating the right amount of resources to your efforts from the get-go, you’ll help set clear expectations for everyone, consumers included.
  • Start slowly. A lot of people will tell you that you need to be on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube and a dozen other popular sites. But nothing is worth doing unless it’s done right so don’t be pressured into signing up for a ton of services right off the bat. Pick one or two that make the most sense and do a great job before expanding your social media horizons.
  • Pick the right people. Don’t make the mistake of handing off social media duties to an employee just because he or she signed up for Twitter before everyone else. Figure out which employees within your organization are best positioned to support your efforts and get them educated and involved.
  • Make social media relevant. Let’s face it: it can get pretty boring managing a Twitter account or Facebook Page. If your employees look at social media tasks as just one more thing they’re burdened with before the day is out, social media won’t work for you. By making sure social media is relevant to their job functions, you’ll help ensure they see social media as more than just another daily chore.

Photo credit: Paul Keleher via Flickr.