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Smart social marketers will use multiple channels at once, not just a serial pursuit of the hottest network of the day.

Don’t get us wrong. We like Facebook (pun intended.) But we’re also watching its struggle to reconcile its original mission (“to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected”) with its post-IPO mandate to make quarterly profits for shareholders. Of course Facebook will change. We hope for the better. We’ve criticized some of their capricious changes in the past, like unannounced interface changes or barely-announced replacement of your email with your Facebook address. Little annoyances, to be sure. But after a while, they add up.

It made me think: What if one day we throw up our hands (thumbs?) and say: Enough Facebook. On to Twitter, Back to LinkedIn, Hello Pinterest!

For purely personal users, it might never come to that. But many Facebook users are also operate a business. Some use their personal page to stay connected to clients and their sphere of influence, as well as friends and family. If Facebook evolves in certain directions, it might become difficult, or simply unpalatable, to have one’s business on it. Here’s an example:

Our friend Nikki Bauchamp recently share this article by ZDNET investigating some strange uncontrolled appearances of your name that could end up damaging your reputation.

“… you might be shocked to learn that Facebook is automatically publishing posts under your name and placing them at the top of the News feed for your friends. In some cases, these posts can include controversial political content that you would never voluntarily post.”

ZDNET’s article includes snapshots of people’s names appearing as “liking” a certain page just above a fairly controversial post that page made. It might have been political, religious or even sexual. More importantly, these appearances aren’t Sponsored Ads but part of Facebook’s “suggestion engine” so you can’t turn off this use of your name. The upshot is that you might be associated with a person, place or thing you might not like, simply because you liked a certain page overall. Your name could become associated with a viewpoint you don’t agree with, nor do your contacts.

So, as the old saying goes: Never put all your eggs in one basket.

That’s why you need to have a diverse social marketing strategy. Your presence must be felt in a few different spaces, and not necessarily only the “big” ones like Twitter or LinkedIn. With the expansion of new niche networks like Pinterest,  LiveJournal, Tagged, CafeMom and Meetup, you can still play in pools of 10 million users and more. Not to mention Digg, StumbleUpon and Reddit, the social bookmark sites that let you share cool content online, are alive and well, offering opportunities to drive traffic to your wholly-owned blog and YouTube channel.

Oh, and did someone say YouTube?

Even if Facebook cleans up its act, you should always be prepared for the worst. Today they’re the shiny thing; tomorrow they could be MySpace’d by something shinier. The challenge is to be a multi-channel marketer, rather than a serial socializer. Trying to pull them all back to your company website or blog might never be possible, because the crowd follows the crowd on the social-pub-crawl of sites. So to the degree you have to follow the customers and be where they are, you’ll follow the migration to new networks over time. But rather serially stalking your sphere of influence, you need to duplicate it in multiple key sites right now.

We’ve always had more than one route to our customers – phone, mail, email, web and now social. Unlike previous tools, where a single channel was the same for everyone (one phone system, one email protocol) social media is a multi-channel medium. Your social strategy isn’t a single funnel any more; nor a circle. It looks something more like a slightly shocked porcupine, with spines jutting out into different networks, in different directions.

You’ll need to send out your feelers into new networks all the time. You’ll connect with many of the same people in multiple networks, and sometimes different people, too. Most importantly, you’ll have more than one option for maintaining your influence should one network fail, or you decide for yourself that it’s no longer appropriate to be associated with it.

So get multi-channel now; not just in case, but just because.