There are a ton of social media networks out there, and the list seems to grow every day: Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, LinkedIn, Reddit,, Instagram, Vine, Youtube, Pinterest, Stumbleupon, Myspace, Tumblr…

Stop. Breathe.

The good news is, you don’t have to be on every social media network, nor do you need to spend tons of time on them. You also definitely don’t need to be a social media master to be successful on them. So how do you decide which social networks are the perfect match for your biz? When evaluating whether a social media network is worth your valuable time and efforts, consider these questions:

What kind of audience does the site attract, and how do those people use it?

LinkedIn, for example, is heavily focused on attracting professionals and encourages online business networking via their Groups, which is perfect if you’re marketing to another business.

Facebook, for all of their attempts to be business friendly, is still seen by most of their users as the place where they interact with friends and family on a more personal level. If your business doesn’t fit well with that type of interaction, you may not want to spend as much time and money marketing on Facebook, in spite of its popularity. Also, read up on what people like or don’t like from businesses via Facebook, and what will gain the greatest engagement based on your industry. This will also give you an idea as to how often you should or shouldn’t be marketing to an audience on Facebook.

Take a look the demographics of the people using each social media network. Pinterest, Tumblr and Reddit are great for compelling pictures and engaging content, but Pinterest is far more popular with women, and Reddit trends more towards men – 72%, ages 25-34 years to be exact, according to DoubleClick. The content you share on these sites should be targeted to the audience that’s there. But don’t completely eliminate one of these based just on gender or assumptions – Do your research! We know Tumblr appears to have a young demographic, however, surprisingly, 46% of Tumblr users are over 35 (the other half are under 25) and 51% are male. Also remember, women buy for men, and vice versa, so you can still hit your target audience by appealing to the opposite gender on these seemingly gender-homogenized social networks.

How much time will I have to spend on these social networks promoting my business?

Reddit is more than just a place to share images, links and funny memes – it’s an online community that rewards folks who consistently contribute valuable information. One popular meme portrays the average Redditor as one who checks the front page right before bed, but can’t pull away until dawn breaks.

Twitter, on the other hand, allows for a more hands off approach. Either way, it’s important to post consistently and you should spend time engaging with other users. You can use third-party services to pre-schedule tweets and get all your posts for an entire month done in about 20 minutes. Remember, though, don’t just set it and forget it, interact with your followers.

When you’re in the exploration phase of your social media plan, spend some time on each site to see what others are doing. Read articles about getting started and how to best accomplish your goals and don’t be afraid to ask for help. These are social networks after all, and there are plenty of people out there that love to give advice and lend a helping hand (like us).

What social media sites are your current customers on, and where would they prefer to engage with you?

Unless you’re breaking into an entirely new and uncharted market, your existing customers are often your best resource to find more customers. Whatever worked to draw them to your business will likely draw more just like them. Don’t be afraid to ask where they want to connect with your business online, whether you do it through a survey, ask them when they’re making a purchase  in your store, or by asking the question on Facebook or Twitter. Showing an interest in your customers and asking for their advice has the side benefit of making them feel like they’re part of the team. This could also turn customers into advocates for you, which will likely result in their sharing your posts when you start showing up on their social media feeds.

Once you’ve evaluated the social media sites that look like a good fit for your business, select one to focus on and master it. The lessons learned there will serve you well as you expand to other sites, and you’ll often be able to reuse the content you create. Most importantly, you’ll only have to focus on a single audience, allowing you to make the best of the limited time you have to create valuable engagement with your customers.

What social media sites are you planning to check out for your business? Have you found success on one network that surprised you? Let us know in the comments.

© 2013 – 2018, Contributing Author. All rights reserved.

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