I would venture to guess that any sales, marketing or really anyone involved in customer-facing departments who have been considering social channels has at one time thrown their hands up in the air and yelled (even with an internal voice) “I Give Up!” over the past year.

I really do not blame you. There simply has been such an utter explosion of sites, sources, networks, channels, engagement expectations, etc. that it is hard to keep up.

And, I would argue, the tools we are using and the guidance given is not much of a help. I mean, look at the latest version of the Conversation Prism – an interesting chart that tries to be inclusive around social channels. But in my opinion, this chart is more of a scare tactic that legitimizes the existence of BS social “gurus” and other social modern-day charlatans.

Take a look at this thing – it makes eye charts look minimalistic:

Yeah – this is not a joke.

So…what are companies looking to expand into social supposed to do? Just let it all pass them by? Of course not. But I would argue that the wide diversity of potential social channels is not all that much different than traditional marketing.

Look, are you advertising in EVERY magazine or trade journal or web site? Are you going to EVERY trade show?

The fact is, we usually do not penetrate 100% of any available addressable market. The cool thing is, we can pick and choose or otherwise opportunistically go after social channels with much less up front cost than traditional channels. I believe this is true for both sales/marketing and customer support.

The easy answer on where to begin? Well, it is not all that easy (or is it?). Listen to your customers, have conversations (both online and offline) to learn where and how they wish to engage, then make investments according to those answers.

As this scary chart shows – there are a lot of ways to engage with customers. No one will master all of these – so try to find the ones worth tackling, and then make your game plan.