I’m anti-social. There I said it. When it comes to Facebook and Twitter, I can be a bit of an introvert. It’s not that I don’t have much to share. I just don’t have the time to keep up with it. I guess that I’m old school.

To me, “social networking” means tradeshows, where I get together with my followers and those I follow a few times a year. Through conversation (the oldest form of social media) we share best practices, brainstorm ways to work together better and complain about hangovers. Now, we could do this online, and on a more regular basis, but where is the fun in that?

Alright. I can’t knock it. It makes sense. I can expand my reach and advance greater collaboration through social media. So, why don’t I do more of it? I’ll get to that in a minute.

Social media is becoming more prevalent in life sciences communications. It’s easy to use and doesn’t cost much relative to other media. Coupled with traditional marketing and PR tactics, social media provides an added dimension capable of generating leads, increasing sales, and producing a positive return on marketing investment.

Last year, we surveyed about 200 scientists and found that 69 percent use some form of social media. Specifically, 35 percent of those we surveyed had a Facebook page and 20 percent used LinkedIn. Based on how many Facebook and Twitter icons I see at the footer of websites, I reckon this number is on the rise.

Those little icons provide a portal to your customer and it is so tempting to get a Twitter account started and put up a Facebook page. But, before you do, you had better be committed. Like all marketing tactics, you can’t just build it and wait for the customers to come. You need to have a strategy in place that has a call to action. You need to define goals that match your business strategy. You need to be prepared to measure against these goals. And, you need to allocate sufficient resources to see it through.

Just because you have a Facebook page, doesn’t mean that you are socially connected. The point is to create a destination and a dialogue… an experience that will drive people back to your page and encourage them to form a social relationship with you. If you have a Facebook page, update it regularly. If you have Twitter followers, Tweet on a regular basis. Bottom line, social networking is a way to connect with your prospects, customers, and partners and it needs constant attention. And, because it’s an online medium, it’s very dynamic. It needs to be monitored and managed all the time. After all, who you “friend” matters.

If you don’t have the time to properly manage a social media campaign, then focus on other tactics and remain anti-social. After all, better to be anti-social than to launch a flawed social media attempt that will damage your brand.

So, I’m anti-social and yet, here I am contributing to a blog on social media. Strange. Next blog post will be on Schizophrenia and marketing.

Follow me on Twitter @msabzali