If Facebook’s recent IPO tells us one thing, it is that social media is now big business and is here to stay. And yet we seem to be at a crossroad when it comes to the management of social media.

It’s hardly surprising that, with more and more channels out there, any business looking to capitalise on the social media opportunity faces an increasingly steep challenge.

The infographic below, that we produced recently, makes this point very clearly. While 52% of UK brands now have dedicated time set aside for managing social channels, 40% don’t have anyone dedicated to social media management and only 10% effectively manage social media ROI.

I think we are entering a phase where the way brands approach social media is beginning to change.

Throughout the country, businesses are no longer asking themselves ‘should we be involved in social media?’ The question has become ‘how are we best going to make the most of and manage social media?’

Change the question, change the answer

It is easier asked than answered. Social media has the potential to have an incredibly positive impact on customer engagement, customer loyalty and generating traffic to a website. But, in order to realise these benefits, a strategic approach is needed.

These are the five main questions any brand should ask when approaching the social media challenge:

1. Who is going to own social media activity?

Social media is something that will have an impact across a business, spanning many different departments. But you still need someone to take overall ownership.

Many brands are now employing specific social media managers that can have this overarching, 360-degree view of the social situation.

2. What’s the budget?

Yes, in many ways, social media is a very cost effective marketing discipline, but it does require investment. This will challenge senior stakeholders in the business to really put their money where their mouth is and make a solid commitment to social media activities.

3. What does success look like?

It is very easy to enter into any social media strategy headfirst and forget to tie activities to business results. So sit down and work out what you are trying to achieve and the KPIs that will give you an indication as to whether you are succeeding or not.

4. What tools should you use?

With the explosion of social media, there are now lots of tools out there that can help you get to grips with the information overload and help you put in place processes that will simplify things.

Only 23% of UK marketers said they were able to update multiple channels from one dashboard, for example.

5. What are the right channels for us?

It seems as though every day a new social network comes onto the scene. It is tempting to set up accounts all over the place, but it is also probably a risky strategy. Much better to do some research, find out where your customers are and then focus on the channels that really matter to them.

The social media opportunity is clear, but realising this opportunity is beset with problems and questions. While the answers might not be straightforward, it is much better to answer them now than further down the line when the strategy might need to be totally overhauled.