Some might say that social media has reached an inflection point. Companies are now staffing social media roles. They have shifted from inaction, to hiring consultants, to making social media part of their day-to-day activities.

If a company is just getting into social media now, it has to do more than just catch up. Establishing a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and/or LinkedIn is a given. Some of the early adopters and bolder organizations have tried to establish a competitive edge by setting themselves up on Google+, Instagram, and Tumblr. If President Obama has made the leap to Tumblr and Google+, what does that mean for everyday folks?

FacebookTwitter, Google+, and Twylah are all focused on offering enhanced brand pages. Additionally, there has been increasing discussion about Path and Pinterest in relation to brands as companies try to figure out a way to stand out. It’s the wild, wild West and they are staking a claim on any emerging social platform that might become popular.

It is hard to know which “latest thing” will become prominent. If history tells us anything, it is that people’s relationships with social media can be fickle and unpredictable — just ask MySpace, Bebo, and Plancast.

So what is a company to do?

They must establish a presence on the current, predominant platforms: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ for good measure. In addition to that, they need to stay abreast of what is garnering the interest of their customers and where they are spending their time. It can’t hurt to establish accounts and squat on them to, at a minimum, avoid brandjacking until they figure out what they want to do.

It sounds like a lot of work, and it is. Beyond the major players, these niche networks have loyal and highly engaged followers. If target customers are spending increasing amounts of time in these niche networks, then brands need to consider reaching them there — but they need to tread softly. As with the other networks, people are not there to be sold. Brands need to approach them through sharing and engagement, leaving the selling for later.

In short, brands must decide where to focus their attention, and they have to figure out how to staff up for the increased effort required to maintain and grow a social media presence across a growing list of platforms.