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You set up your Facebook page. Your Twitter account is active. You’re linked in to LinkedIn. So where is everybody?

Wasn’t social media supposed to be the free and easy way to market your business?

Well, not exactly. Now that the hype has died down a little bit, here are the facts: Social media is hot, no doubt. Currently, Facebook has more than 800 million active users globally. Facebook (as of December 2011) is the second most popular online website, falling closely behind Google. In fact, the average American spends nearly eight hours on Facebook each month. Twitter and LinkedIn continue to be popular, and relative newcomers like Pinterest are picking up steam. And let’s not forget Google+, either, and YouTube, Flickr, Quora, too.

So, yes, given the immense popularity of social networking platforms, it does make a lot of sense for marketers to be there, too. But, here’s the thing: Managing social media platforms takes time, talent and expertise. And unless your organization is already well known, you have to do a whole lot of networking to start seeing results. Keep in mind, social media is a lot different from advertising. You’re not just broadcasting a message ‚Ä쬆you’re interacting one-on-one with your community. And, honestly, that can be a lot of work.

If you have the energy and enthusiasm to invest in social media as an in-house function, you will probably be better at it than any marketing partner ever could be. By all means, handle it yourself. After all, you know your business better than anyone else. But, on the other hand, if you’re like most business people, you already have enough to do without adding more to the list.

In that case, it does pay to work with an outside social media consultant like us. We can help you by analyzing your competitive situation, recommending the best social media platforms for your organization, building up your networks, increasing engagement, and monitoring the Internet for social mentions (responding when it makes sense to do so and alerting you to any negative mentions, as well).

There’s one other advantage to the way we do social media: We offer scheduled reporting, with social media reports sent to you automatically on a regular, ongoing basis. That way, you can see the top-line data and know that your social media program is being actively managed ‚Ä쬆not just on autopilot.