When it comes to choosing social media platforms for your business, less is more. While you may feel pressure to utilise every platform, focusing on only a select few channels will maximise your impact and allow you to stretch your limited budget and manpower.

So, how do you decide which channels are best for your business? In order to create a successful social strategy, you’ll need to ask yourself a few key questions about your expectations and goals, your target audience, and the platforms themselves.

Use the following tips from Bplans to help narrow your choices and determine which social media platforms will yield the greatest ROI for your business:

Who are your customers?

Here at Bplans, we continually emphasize the importance of knowing who your target market is, and the necessity of doing market research. Having a clear sense of who your customers are plays a huge role in determining which social platforms will be most beneficial to your business.

Is your customer base predominantly younger (for example, the ever-coveted millennial group)? Instagram is probably a good bet. Are your customers mostly women? Pinterest users are more likely to be women, which would make this platform a good choice.

To get a sense of what each social platform looks like from a demographic standpoint, take a look at Sprout Social’s extensive breakdown of the social platforms by key demographic indicators like gender, age, and income. You know (or you should know) who your customers are, and this will give you a sense of where they fit in terms of the popular social platforms.

How much time do you have?

Could you choose to create a strong social presence on every social media site that your customers use? Sure, you could. But, chances are this would prove to be far too time consuming for the average small business owner.

The big brands that small business owners hope to emulate, the ones that put out great content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and so on? They have a marketing team at their disposal, and more likely than not employ someone specifically to run their social media platforms.

While this seems obvious, it’s important to take a step back and look at how your business stacks up in terms of bandwidth. If you’re like most small business owners, keeping up on your social media profiles will likely be a matter of you personally creating content for them and running them by yourself (or perhaps with the help of another team member).

Take a look at how much time you actually have to devote to curating your social media presence. Some sites, like Instagram, are lower on the time commitment spectrum; others, like YouTube, demand significantly more time to produce content.

Also consider your existing content offerings; where can you repurpose them? Do you spend hours crafting fantastic blog posts? It might be a good idea to focus on a platform like Twitter or Facebook where sharing long-form content like this is encouraged.

What is your brand’s tone of voice?

Some brand personality styles lend themselves better to one social platform or another. Spend some time considering your brand and what type of brand personality you are trying to cultivate, and see where that brand personality fits best.

Does your brand focus on a strong professional reputation in your industry, and a more serious, helpful, informative tone of voice? A platform like LinkedIn might be a good one to focus on, or you could consider creating informative, useful videos on YouTube. A brand that hopes to cultivate a young, fun, snappy tone might take to Twitter, where pithy one-liners and retweeted GIFs are a common method of communicating with an audience.

This isn’t to say that, to continue the examples above, a brand with a serious personality wouldn’t be well-suited for Twitter, or that a more lighthearted brand wouldn’t do well on LinkedIn. But, it does make sense to spend some time evaluating your brand, and determining which platforms suit it best. The lighthearted brand might find success on LinkedIn, but they will likely have to work much harder for it, and in the end, the time expenditure may not be worth their while.

What kind of social media content do you enjoy creating?

I’m going to be honest—I am not a fan of creating YouTube videos. I tried it, and it just wasn’t for me. I like watching vloggers, but I don’t like doing the vlogging.

Now, I love Instagram. I get Instagram. I think it’s quite fun—even if my Instagram is just a mishmash of my recent outfits, purchases, or aesthetically-pleasing meals.

This brings us to what is, in my opinion, the most important question you should ask yourself when determining your social media marketing strategy: What kind of content do you actually like to make?

The best social media strategy is one that is consistent. Building up your presence on a social platform takes time, and it may be weeks, months, or years of posting to a certain platform before you see the results you are after (depending on what your goals are). Which platforms do you think you’ll enjoy putting this effort into?

Another way to look at it: What kind of content do you like to create, specifically? Do you enjoy taking pictures? A visual platform like Instagram or Pinterest might suit you best. Do you like posting a variety of types of content, and want a place to link back to your weekly blog posts? Facebook or Twitter might be your go-to.

Where next?

Clearly, there are multiple routes you can take to determine what platform (or platforms) are right for your business. There isn’t one correct way to figure it out; you may make a data-driven decision, based on demographics and size of user base, or you may simply focus on the platforms you personally enjoy most. Both are valid strategies, as long as you are tracking and measuring your success.

In terms of tracking the success of your social media marketing, it’s important to clearly define your goals, and make sure you have a system in place to determine if you are meeting them.

The tools you use will depend on both your needs and your budget; generally speaking, you can do some basic social analytic monitoring within each platform, but you may find that eventually you need to upgrade to a paid product to help you track your social data.

To get you started, I’ve curated a list of resources that will help you determine what to track and how to track it.

For more business tips, head to Bplans.com.

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