If your client is not yet clear on the power of social media, it’s time to accelerate your counsel to them as its PR agency and get them involved. Now more than ever when, for example, we have a president who is a prolific tweeter and oftentimes breaks news first on Twitter…AND people read it!, the power of social media should be very evident to them. Encourage them to “get in the game,” so to speak, and ramp up their company’s social channels.

But just convincing them to get in the game is only the start for them, and for you. Make sure you ready them for what lies ahead. Just establishing a Twitter handle, for example, doesn’t mean their work or yours is done.

Developing a plan that includes scheduling regular posts, writing engaging copy and monitoring for responses is essential before any company goes live. These elements are what turn a social media effort into a success.

Of equal importance in this planning stage is establishing what type of public input your client receives should require a response. Sometimes, as they say, silence is golden. Knowing when to reply to something that may escalate into a larger issue and when to ignore an offhand comment is crucial.

An important exercise before engaging on social media, as well as periodically from that point forward, should be to create examples of potential posts from the public and review if and if so what type of responses are needed, keeping in mind the potential interest from the media, social channel conversations and videos that sometimes even a single post can spark.

And remember, on those posts you determine a response is needed, time is of the essence. Those who use social media expect a rapid response.

Above all, you want to avoid situations such as the recent incident involving United Airlines and a video showing a passenger being violently dragged off a flight. The video was reposted on Twitter more than 170,000 times and circulated further via television broadcasts, news websites, YouTube and Facebook.

In that instance, the public expressed dissatisfaction about the company’s initial response, which they deemed was neither timely nor adequate. It wasn’t until two days later that Oscar Munoz, chief executive of United, issued a full apology. United has, for the most part, recovered from that incident financially, but the contents of the video remains the butt of jokes still today.

Don’t let the potential negatives scare your client to the point that they turn down your efforts to establish a vibrant social media presence. Just counsel them on the essentials of being engaged and prepare them well in advance, as well as on the journey, so that they and you can avoid the social media pitfalls.