Over the holidays I took my two nieces ice skating for the first time. I observed the distinct ways they approached the problem of staying up, moving forward and not falling on their butts. The six year old took a cautious yet determined approach, going steadily from the walker gizmo to holding my hand, to going solo for longer distances until she could skate by herself.

The four year old, while achieving roughly the same result, quickly tossed away the walker and went on a 10-yard kamikaze skate that ended with a head-first slam into the boards. She couldn’t stop laughing. They were both afraid of falling down, getting hurt and looking silly in the process but they overcame these fears and moved themselves forward.

Fear of slipping up, falling down and looking bad can keep people from trying anything that seems new and challenging and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that many CMOs, marketing directors, PR directors, brand managers, product managers and social media managers can be big, fat chickens when it comes to integrating and mastering new marketing approaches. There are some very good reasons not to try something new and they all work really well up until the point where “something new” becomes mainstream and the old way isn’t enough to be competitive anymore.

If you are a marketing executive reading this article, you may have just taken your first step so here are 11 pieces of advice for moving forward into online video and social media marketing in 2011.

1. Educate Yourself

Familiarize yourself with video marketing and the relationship between video and social media including what is possible, what is working, what hasn’t worked and why. Subscribe to newsletters, ask questions, set up informational meetings with agencies to understand where viral marketing and traditional marketing intersect and differ. This will help you in choosing the right types of agencies and internal team members to work with and help you make informed decisions. Video and social are evolving and growing so do what you can to stay current and/or surround yourself with people who are.

2. Embrace Online Video and Social Media Marketing

Marketing and advertising are going through a significant transformation and although the specific ways we create and consume video and engage via social media may change, neither is going away anytime soon. You may not be ready to do what Pepsi did last year and forego the Super Bowl in favor of social but you have to recognize the role of video and social going forward and be aware of their capabilities and limitations.

3. Commit Budget to Promote Video and Social Media Initiatives

Like a karate expert breaking boards, you have to hit with enough force to clear through the board. Too little effort and you will be rejected. Allocate enough budget to sufficiently seed videos to the right viewers via blog and publication outreach, social network marketing and paid placement on highly targeted online publication and social networking sites like Facebook and youTube to stimulate views and conversation. Contests can also be valuable ways of stimulating interest in your products and services. The idea is to go from “paid” views and conversation to “earned” views and conversation but you have to be prepared to spend enough to get the ball rolling.

4. Develop Creative That is Relevant and Shareable

Most people flee from ads so create content that delivers your brand message as entertainment. Make your agency or creative team present you with creative concepts that will be shareable and try to go easy on the sell. As a marketing executive, you will be tempted to inject a strong call to action but take care to balance the message vs the entertainment value.

5. Establish Clear Expectations and Goals – Learn to Predict ROI

You wouldn’t run a race in which there was no clear beginning, end or checkpoints. You have to know where you are starting, where you want to end up and how you’re going to get there. Understand why you are, or are not, considering an online video marketing initiative. Most importantly, establish a desired ROI before developing an online video or social media marketing campaign and then establish goals and tactics that will get you there.

6. Integrate Video and Social Media Into Traditional Marketing Initiatives

Many marketing executives launch video and social media campaigns in a bubble. Rather, you should integrate your video and social media campaigns into your TV, print, radio, outdoor and PR  initiatives to engage an expanded audience. Sometimes we forget that the now-seminal “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” Old Spice Guy started as a TV ad. Also, identify which internal teams you could be working closely with on the launch and follow-through of your campaigns. Social media marketing relies on the spread of information so the more channels you can have working for you the further your campaign reach will be. In addition, you may be able to share the creative, production and viral marketing costs with other departments and create content that can be used for multiple purposes.

7. Allow and Encourage Experimentation!

Everything your team initiates doesn’t have to be a full-blown, make-or-break, do-or-die campaign. Feel free to start small, measure the response, learn from mistakes and double down on successes. Don’t be discouraged if something doesn’t work because some things just won’t for a variety of reasons including content, timing, allocated budget, viral strategy and messaging.

8. Be Responsive

As in PR, the ability to respond quickly and decisively is key in online video and social media marketing. Launching a video via social networking sites and blog outreach often sparks a reaction that requires immediate attention. Ignore or mishandle an opportunity and your campaign could fall flat or even result in negative gains. Hit your audience with a fast and creative response (reactive engagement) and you could propel the campaign forward with a secondary push that can result in unexpected rewards and continued momentum.

9. Don’t Play Follow the Leader

Being the leader involves taking calculated risks and sometimes sailing uncharted waters. This is not to say you shouldn’t go where man has gone before but always encourage originality and authenticity. Press your agency and team to launch campaigns that others are compared to rather than campaigns that are compared to others.

10. Don’t Assume Video and Social are B2C Only

Viral marketing is all about engaging people, giving them the incentives and tools to engage more people and spreading your message in the process. Businesses don’t make purchases, people do. In both B2C and B2B marketing you are trying to reach individual consumers. The difference between a B2B and B2C online video marketing approach is simply a shift in the focus of the creative and the viral marketing strategy.

11. Be Prepared to Fall on Your Butt Now and Then

Just like in ice skating, falling down is an inevitability. How hard and how many times you fall (and whether anyone even notices) have yet to be seen but there will be a learning curve. Even if you work with an experienced agency or hire experienced people, online video marketing, social media and social video advertising are emerging and constantly changing disciplines. Audiences, platforms and technologies will change and not every campaign will be wildly successful but you can maximize your chances that most are. Those are the ones that will propel you, your brand and your career forward.

The marketing executives that will be most successful in the online video and social media marketing space will be the ones that are willing to learn, integrate, adapt, respond and lead. Happy New Year!