As of mid 2011, 44-percent of Fortune 500 companies didn’t have a Facebook account and another 40-percent don’t have a Twitter presence. These companies –with a vastness of resources haven’t taken the time to ask their in-house IT guys to set up a simple Facebook page? With online communities blooming, we have had to fight, tooth-and-nail, to get a serious audience for the question “why?” Why post 5 times a day on Facebook? Why tweet 100 times a month? Why open a seventh branded twitter account? Why get your space carved out on Google+, Foursquare, or the like?

Each company needs a social landing page. While some do just well with a website, some require a multi-channel approach .It is important for all companies to understand WHY their company should invest in social media and whether they should or not. Here some such concerning factors that will help you understand whether or not and how social media can help you:

When it Makes Sense:

There are plenty of instances where Facebook and Twitter make a great deal of sense. If your business is reliant on regular interaction with the consumer or the perception of an authoritative voice on something, Twitter needs you. If you’re a news-maker without a Facebook, that’s a problem.

Regularly Returning Customers:

If your business/organization has regularly returning customers (say at least once a month) the sort of instant mass-contact you get from Facebook brings a great deal of benefits. A Facebook post might be the best and cheapest weapon in the advertising arsenal for a beauty salon trying to drum up business around prom time, or a coffee shop trying to get rid of those scones before they expire.

Now, if you don’t fit into one of those categories, its time to start asking yourself: “Self, why do I need to devote business hours to updating social media?” Well, you don’t.

Your Audience:

Companies spend time urging customers to like them. Begging, “Help us get to 1000 fans by tomorrow night!” New York Times blogger MP Mueller rightly puts these practices in perspective. “It feels a little like a kid on the playground begging to be picked for a team,” he writes. “It makes me feel uncomfortable for that company and question why I would consider a relationship with them.” And the reward that consumers get for giving in? Giving up vital wall-space to self-promoting advertisers. Folks don’t want to see business spam on Facebook, this is their space.

Beyond the desires of your consumers, we have to ask, “Are these people even my consumers?” In 2011, 77-percent of Facebook users were 33 years old and younger. The U.S. census data reveals that only 12.7-percent of business owners, leaders, and CEOs are in that same age range. If you’re targeting businesses, Facebook is not your tool.

Time Investment:

A 2011 infographic from Social Times illustrates the “Real Cost of Social Media.” They find that the average social media campaign (year-long) costs just over $200,000 in time and expense. So much for free advertising, right?

Another study looked closely at the potential return on investment a company gets from Twitter. The findings were a bit worrisome for the “gurus” of the world. The average company on Twitter invests $2,382 a month and sees a return of $1,667 (ROI: 43%). This situation screams strategy and time management.

Reputation Management:

An easy response to defend the use of social media (albeit not especially compelling) is the “What harm can it do? Its free!” response. In early 2010, food-giant Nestle found themselves in quite the Facebook quandary. Thousands upon thousands of comments flooded their wall. “Why is there no ‘I want to register my disgust button’?” was one such comment. A few rumors and a viral video turned Nestle’s Facebook page from a non-destination into the worst PR move in company history. And if that story isn’t enough Google the Southwest Airlines twitter fiasco are one of the many instances where media has gone wrong.

The take home point here isn’t that your business should close down every social media outlet you’ve opened. In fact, giving your consumers the ability to “like” or “mention” you is perfectly good practice. Spending work hours on twitter of Facebook hoping to drum up business, on the other hand, likely has the worst ROI of any marketing effort if not done aptly.