There’s a new job in town, social media specialist; and It’s not for your “old-school” communications major.

Whilst traditional media is a dynamic staple in marketing strategy, social media is the new black. It’s faster, it’s riskier, and it could make or break everything you’re working for.

Today, most companies have boarded the mandatory social media bandwagon, but are they doing it right?

Your digital media tactics have to align with your principal marketing campaign and brand. Too often a company will go through the motions of setting up accounts and add the task of content creation to an already lengthy to do list for employees, without a true direction.

While such an action may increase short-term recognition for the company temporarily, it fails to translate into concrete numbers such as sales and product awareness.

More often, a company may end up with multiple accounts across several platforms, each operating independently. This “social sprawl” may partially satisfy some of the short term goals that the company may have, such as increased customer engagement and communication, but it does not assist the long-term objectives of the brand such as brand aligned product promotional campaigns, long term community building, and a cohesive and intelligent brand image. In addition, having too many official accounts creates both customer segregation and fatigue. When similar accounts or messages are received multiple times on the same platform, it’s associated with spam. If only certain accounts send out a message, then you’re not maximizing the reach of your company’s online presence.

When social media is well planned and incorporated into the inception of a campaign on the other hand, it can become the thing that sets you apart from the competition. It gives you that “thing” that made digital platforms popular in the first place (personalized content, free usage, active involvement) without the obstacles and gap between creation and distribution that traditional media holds. An ideal setup is a tactfully chosen number of accounts across multiple platforms, each with a high distribution range (likes, followers, multiple age and gender groups,) sending a cohesive message in various forms tailored for each platform (blog posts, tweets, memes, short and long videos, etc.)

Unpredictability is what makes social media such a tricky medium to work with.

Because so much content is user generated, there’s always the possibility that something your company posts is going to “take off,” meaning go viral, sometimes in a very bad way.

While some say there’s no such thing as bad press, that’s no longer true now that every one of your detractors can launch an attack against you with a keyboard. Sometimes a message may even be interpreted in a way that’s contrary to the original message, yet the publisher will have no control over what happens next.

Conversely, a message that is trending positively will have a snowball effect from users who support it. A single hashtag that goes viral could solidify your brands place in it’s industry.

So yes, social media is no longer optional for any organization. Doing it right, however, is far more important.