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Brands and Social: Finding the Perfect Fit

As Facebook turns 10 and the proliferation of social networks continues, brands find themselves with a difficult decision - how to be all things, to all people, in all places.

Over the past year, more and more brands have sought to get into the real-time and content businesses. Sometimes these two merge, but often they are, at best, complementary strategies for reaching an audience. But where to reach them has become as challenging, if not more challenging, as what to say when reaching them.

After years of explaining that a 30-second TV spot would not work on the Internet, brands don't need the lecture when it comes to social media. They understand that even though Instagram and Pinterest are both visual networks, they require different communication plans to maximize the consumer connection.

So, with the demands of at least six, maybe 10, credible networks vying for attention from brands based on consumer usage, what should the brand strategy be to achieve success?

The easy answer is that it depends on the brand. Or even that you need to be where your audience is, and they are on ALL of these networks. But perhaps the more measured answer may be to let the creative canvas dictate what you do.

There is little doubt that, with the scale across all of these platforms, you could be everywhere. But, can you afford to be everywhere? With the growing acceptance that paid media must now support owned and earned, and the varying creative opportunities of platforms, the right answer for many brands may be more focused on casting a wide net.

It's a tough sell for brands that have been throwing social network logos on TV commercials and that want to be associated with the next big thing. But brands need to ask the following: Does this site allow our brand to represent itself in a way that's authentic and sustainable to us, while capturing the attention of a large segment of our target audience?

If yes, then invest. If no, then step back and shift focus to those properties that do allow you to create relevant connections. Tell your story in the formats most natural to your brand and be comfortable with the properties best suited for that. If social media is based on authenticity, then you have an obligation to deliver for your customers and, in this case, less will be more.

Article by Chris Copeland for ClickZ

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