We’ll admit it: social media can be overwhelming.

Posting blog entries, updating Facebook, tagging photos, streaming videos, digging, stumbling, tweeting… and we haven’t even mentioned tracking feedback, gauging sentiment, following fans and solving problems.

Who has time for all this?

Well, we do, but that’s what we do every day.  And even we wouldn’t have time for everything we do if we didn’t have a few tools at hand that made everything a bit easier and kept us all a bit more sane.

If you’re trying to wrap your head around scaling your own social media solutions, here are 4 tips that might make everything more manageable.

1.  Social Media Platform Management — The moment you’re managing more than one social media channel at a time, your room for error — or for old-fashioned information overload — multiplies exponentially.  Jamie Beckland compiled a great comparison chart of social media management tools like HootSuite, CoTweet and SocialOomph, so you can find a solution that suits your needs without breaking your budget.

2.  Converge Your Channels — Does your Flickr account link to your blog?  Do you tweet links to your YouTube videos?  Do your employees’ LinkedIn profiles all point back to your company’s website and its Facebook page?  If boosting traffic is part of your social media strategy, make sure your channels are working together, not in isolation.

3.  Get Ahead and Stay Ahead — Not everything in social media happens in real time.  Yes, you need to engage your audience and answer their questions as they happen, but those promotional tweets you need to send about next week’s big sale can be scheduled a week in advance.  And any evergreen content on your website or blog can be referred to regularly, which means you don’t need to lay awake every night worrying about having something new to say tomorrow.

4.  Streamline Your Efforts — As important as it is to be everywhere online, it’s even more important to be where your audience is most active.  They may find you on Flickr, but they might interact with you most beneficially on Twitter or Facebook.  If time is of the essence — and it always is — figure out which of your channels yields the highest return on your investment.  Then, limit your efforts on the ancillary channels strictly to maintenance (unless circumstances change), and pour the bulk of your resources into what’s working.

And if it all still sounds like too much work, start with one simple question:

What don’t people know about your company?

Then, tell them.

Image by Katie W.