So you’ve created a new brand for the web and you want to showcase it. But what social channels should you be on, and how tightly should you lock down that brand?

That’s always a tough call. On one hand there’s the temptation to go on a social media spree and grab that handle everywhere just to make sure no one else does. But then, do you want a dozen accounts to keep track of that you aren’t necessarily actively using?

The challenge with social media is that it’s an opportunity and a responsibility. Sure, it makes it easier to reach out to customers and prospects, but every channel you create is a window into your brand. Think of it like a house: even if you’re not using a room, people can still see into that window. That creates an impression.

It can work against you to have a Twitter account, for instance, if you never sign in and have very few followers. Anyone checking you out will perceive that you aren’t engaged there. They may wonder how accessible you are as an organization, which is a challenge we’ve faced as well.

It really comes down to your audience and how much time you’re willing to invest. If you don’t think any of your customers are on Pinterest, for instance, it’s probably not worth even making a profile there. And if somebody else creates a profile there related to your branding, it should be relatively easy to contain if your other social channels are strong.

I’ve run into a shade of this situation recently on my personal handle. I’ve been tweeting under @ironscribe for years, but since I don’t use Instagram I never thought to use the handle there. Apparently someone else has, and sometimes posts they add on Instagram get retweeted on Twitter with my handle being included. It’s not a big deal since I don’t have a huge following and neither does this other person, but it could create confusion on both ends. People that follow him could be looking for him on Twitter also and end up confused, or folks following me could assume I’ve created a new Instagram account.

But to that end I’d end with this thought: be conscious of where you think your audience is and not simply what channels you value. For instance, you might not personally enjoy Facebook. But if most of your audience tends to sign on there, it’s worth considering regardless because it’s a big missed opportunity otherwise. We can’t always expect our audience to take time to sign into the networks we like just because that’s where we are.