Trying to keep up with the latest social media network can feel like a game of whack-a-mole.

As soon as the next big thing is introduced, it seems to be old news. It’s like buying a new computer — as soon as you leave the store, it seems to be obsolete. Something better comes along so fast that you feel like you’re in a constant state of FOMO.

With marketing, you also don’t have the time or the budget to devote to every social media network out there. Plus, you never know which networks are just going to be a flash in the pan.

Instead, you need to focus your efforts on just a few networks to get the most return for your investment.

Here are a few tips to help you answer the question of which social media network should you focus on:

Know Your Target Audience

Having a narrowly defined target audience should be at the center of all your marketing efforts, but it is especially important when you are trying to winnow the field of the hundreds of social media networks.

Once you know your target audience, you need to break it down further by creating specific personas within that audience. After all, not every 18 to 35-year-old professional male is the same, even if they all fall under that same umbrella category.

If that is your target audience, you might have a persona that is second guessing career and another that is firmly established and is raising a family. Your strategies for reaching these different personas will be different, including what kind of content you post and what networks you post on.

Knowing your audience can help you identify the right social network. For example, professional males in that age group aren’t likely to spend much time on Pinterest. But they will be on LinkedIn and Twitter.

The more narrowly you can define your audience, the better you will be able to predict their patterns.

Pay Attention to Social Metrics

Is your Twitter feed an echo chamber and your voice is the only one in it?

If that’s the case, you probably are spending too much time on the wrong network.

Your social metrics will let you know if you are reaching your target audience. If you aren’t getting the followers, likes, shares, retweets and other engagement that you think you should, you probably aren’t on the right site.

Of course, the problem could also be that you aren’t posting the right content or that you aren’t posting at the right times. You’ll have to test your strategy to get to the source of the problem.

Do Your Research

Your competitors are a treasure trove of information about your target audience.

They are trying to reach the same customers as you, so pay attention to where they are posting and how.

Do your competitors have a huge following on Facebook? Or are they having lively conversations on Twitter? Those are the places you want to be.

You can also use industry tools to help you gain insights. For example, tools like BuzzSumo can give you information about social users so that you can better understand the demographics of each site.

Just Ask

Your customers are not oracles. They are not inscrutable. All you have to do is ask them what they want, and they are likely to tell you.

Ask your customers about their social networking preferences when you engage with them on a sale or meet them at a conference. Host a poll on your website or in your email newsletter.

Don’t just ask customers what social networks they use. Also ask them things like how often they visit those sites, what kind of content they look at on the sites, and how they engage with the sites.

Make sure that you conduct these polls semi-regularly. Since the social media landscape changes so quickly, the answers that your audience gives you today are likely to be much different from the answers that they give you in six months.

Don’t be the last one to leave the party — or else you’ll be that brand that’s still on MySpace because everyone used to say that it was cool.

Finding the right social networking sites can help you concentrate your efforts so that you get the best return on your investment. You can make the most of social media so that you create more exposure for your brand and encourage customer engagement that can turn into long-term brand loyalty.

Using the right social networks can also help you get more for your advertising dollars. Sites like Facebook and Twitter are improving their advertising options, and you can reach more customers than ever before with the right strategies. You can also monetize your own profiles by selling ads on them.