The biggest complaint most business have about marketing is that there are just too many things to do. It’s hard to argue this point, especially when you consider the massive amount of competition, necessity, and “white noise” on social media.

Social media isn’t only essential, it is the most effective way for smaller businesses to reach out to new and potential customers. It allows us to share updates, announce promotions, build up an online identity and create excitement. It’s cheap, too, and just about everyone is familiar enough with the popular platforms to create and manage accounts.

That said, there comes a time when enough is enough and businesses need to decide which platforms fit their needs and which ones can be set aside.

Visual & Profile-Based Platforms

There’s one easy way to split social media into two categories and, by extension, four. “People-based” networks include Google Plus, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, and Vine make up the visual-based category.

Furthermore, you can easily split the visual category into “images” and “video” subsections. The same goes for people-based networks since most people use Facebook and Twitter (in a non-business sense) for impromptu blogging and connecting with friends, whereas LinkedIn and Google Plus emphasize business networking.

According to this awesome infographic, here are a few telling titles of these media platforms:

  • Facebook = Social Networking
  • Google Plus = Social Identity
  • Twitter = Microblogging
  • LinkedIn = Business Connections
  • Pinterest = Online Scrapbook
  • Instagram = Photo Sharing
  • YouTube = Video Sharing
  • Vine = Motion Clips

This is typically how everyday people use these platforms, but the underlying uses for these platforms is just as telling for businesses.

Matching Platforms with Businesses

You have to ask yourself the following question: How do I want to define my business on social media?

Think of it this way…

  • Does a local coffee shop need a LinkedIn profile?
  • Does a construction company need a Pinterest?
  • How effective would a YouTube channel be for a law firm?

Yes — it is useful for businesses to be on as many channels as possible to maximize exposure, though having a presence on 15 different platforms is only worth it if you have the time, energy, commitment, and creativity to make them work.

Typically, Facebook is the bottom line for companies that provide services and products to actual people. On the other hand, Twitter and LinkedIn are useful for businesses interested in networking with industry leaders and other brands. Video-based platforms should be reserved for companies willing to invest in high-end instructive videos whereas Pinterest and Instagram are best for niche, artistically-inclined businesses.