There will be many businesses and individuals examining their social media engagement in the next few weeks, as another year commences.

And one of the most pressing elements for those engaging online will be how to deliver successful social media marketing in 2013.

I believe there’s only one important factor which makes for successful social media marketing. One factor. One word.

Balance.

By ‘balance’, I mean the ability to effectively manage a range of important ongoing considerations within a well-planned social media strategy. Balance is at the heart of a successful social media marketing campaign, and failing to maintain it can be costly.

So, when considering how, where, when and why to deliver social media engagement in 2013, it’s also worth considering if you’re achieving a reasonable balance in your social media marketing, including:

* Sharing vs. Selling

One of the best ways to achieve balance within your social media marketing is to be mindful of the ratio between Sharing and Selling. Sharing should come first – after all, most folk are on social media platforms to be informed, entertained and educated – not sold to. Selling is inevitable, but it needs to be done with integrity, intelligence and ingenuity.

* Connecting vs. Canvassing

Connecting remains a major benefit of social media marketing – we connect with others to share ideas, outstanding products, brilliant services and more. Genuine, helpful, giving-based connecting makes for an effective social media strategy linchpin. If you’re going to canvas connections for support, make sure you’ve given plenty of useful nuggets to them first.

* Quality vs. Quantity

Traditional marketers remain obsessed with social media marketing as a numbers game. And for some products and services, successful social media engagement needs to be measured, at least in part, based on numerical analysis. But the Holy Grail for social media campaigns should, first and foremost, be about delivering quality content. Balance the Q’s in 2013.

* A final thought

It’s ultimately down to honest, transparent marketing.

If you genuinely assess your social media marketing regularly, and find a healthy balance between sharing and selling, connecting and canvassing, and quality versus quantity, it’s highly likely that you’ll reap better financial, statistical and measurable returns on your time and money investments in social media during 2013.