Social media is still a young indus­try, says Jeremy Waite, Adobe’s head of social strat­egy for EMEA.

He’s right. A few years ago many of us were only dab­bling with MySpace, Twit­ter and Face­book. Now we have even more social plat­forms to choose from like Pin­ter­est, Insta­gram, Tum­blr and Foursquare. There are even regional plat­forms like VKon­takte in East­ern Europe or Weibo in Asia. We’re ded­i­cat­ing more of our mar­ket­ing bud­gets towards “engag­ing” on these plat­forms, and hir­ing peo­ple or agen­cies with job descrip­tions that didn’t exist two years ago.

But what do you actu­ally want to achieve from social media?

Dif­fer­ent areas of your busi­ness want likes or engage­ment or a cus­tomer ser­vice plat­form, but until social has a cen­tral place in your busi­ness it’s not likely to suc­ceed long-term.

How much are you spend­ing on social? 3–5% is fairly aver­age, but accord­ing to Waite, the best brands spend 12–25% of their mar­ket­ing bud­gets on social media.

Waite has devel­oped a sim­ple model to help dig­i­tal mar­keters develop a 360-degree approach. The “Like-Cycle” from Adobe is based on real expe­ri­ence with the biggest brands such as Ama­zon, Burberry and Nike, and helps dig­i­tal mar­keters tackle the top 5 chal­lenges most busi­nesses face in social media:

The Like-Cycle from Adobe

The Like-Cycle applies to more than just Face­book – as dig­i­tal mar­keters we should be try­ing to build a people-focused strat­egy not a social network-focused strat­egy. After all, we’re there for the peo­ple not the platforms.

Like on average 40 brands – 2012

Like on aver­age 40 brands – 2012

The scary sta­tis­tics are out there, but with a strong strat­egy based on an under­stand­ing of data and intel­li­gence your social media pro­gram could beat the odds.

Down­load the “Like-Cycle” from Adobe (white paper) now.