As we discussed last week, many companies are warming up to the idea of incorporating strong social media strategies into their overall marketing campaigns. In some cases, this calls for hiring a team to consult with you and establish your presence on the Web. In others, an Internet-savvy intern may be able to take care of establishing your online agenda and putting your brand on the social media map.

Regardless of your route, if you’ve been considering social media, you may want to first sit down and talk to an advertising specialist about what approaches are best for your business. Many marketers may try to convince you that you need to dive in with an active account in every area of social media; but that’s not necessarily true for everyone. And although social media marketing can be extremely low-cost, it does involve effort and manpower – since the key to this tactic is the human engagement aspect, with regular updates and an ongoing dialogue. To avoid excess costs and be sure your effort is going to have significant payoff, here are a few considerations to get you started:

Identify your goals. Why are you considering social media marketing? Is it because you feel like it’s something you’re supposed to do – or that it’s something that will bring your business to the next level? Consider how your website is currently used by clients or customers. Is this a significant lead for new business or just a way to post your information online? If you have a blog, take into account whether or not you already have an active audience who posts comments and seems engaged with the content.

Assign a budget. Starting a Facebook, YouTube or Twitter account may be free, but operating costs aren’t. If you want to earn trust from those who care about online interactivity, you may need to hire staff to tweet, blog and update throughout the day. If you’re building a first-time Web presence, you may need to buy an AdWords account to drive traffic. You may want to keep up with analytics to determine if you’re garnering the attention you desire. Before getting started, consider what you can afford to invest.

Check back next week for part 2, with even more social media marketing tips from Mad 4 Marketing.