Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram… the list of today’s social media platforms is alarmingly long. The bad news? It is nearly impossible to effectively use every social media platform to promote your business. The good news? You don’t need to!

The key to a successful social media presence is a narrow focus that effectively engages your business’s audience. Here are three steps to tackling social media:

  1. Understand The Basics

Businesses miss or mishandle up to 80% of consumer engagement opportunities; this is why a basic understanding of today’s most popular social media platforms and what they are used for is an essential first step. Here is a brief breakdown of how businesses use five popular social media platforms:

  • Facebook: Businesses use Facebook to build a loyal community around their brands. They do this through providing content that consumers “like” and “share.” Some businesses also advertise their products and services through promoted posts and targeted ads.
  • Twitter: This platform is used to create brand awareness, increase followers, and provide informative and relevant content. Twitter allows businesses to interact with consumers in real time. It also has paid options that enable businesses to promote accounts, tweets, and trends.
  • LinkedIn: LinkedIn is used to connect business professionals. It is a key business to business marketing tool. Content that enhances professional development is valued by the LinkedIn community.
  • YouTube: Businesses use YouTube to broadcast content through Channels. The most effect YouTube Channels have a theme and provide frequent updates. Businesses can advertise through targeted video ads that play before consumers can view selected videos.
  • Instagram: Businesses promote their brands, products, and upcoming promotions on Instagram through images and short video clips. Instagram has an option for businesses to sponsor photos and videos to reach targeted audiences.

Your business probably does not need to use all five of these social media channels. Consider who your target market is, and then determine which social media platforms enable you to effectively reach it. This brings us to our next step.

  1. Find Your Audience

The next step to tackling social media is finding out which social media channels your audience is using. Demographic data is a quantitative way to determine which social media platforms you should develop. Here are some of the key takeaways from the Pew Research Center’s Social Media Update:

  • 52% of online adults now use two or more social sites
  • 56% of all online adults 65 and older use Facebook
  • 53% of young adults between the ages of 18 – 29 use Instagram
  • 50% of internet users with a college education use LinkedIn
  • 51% of teens whose household income is less than $30,000 use Facebook while only 3% of these teen use Twitter

These statistics demonstrate the type of data to look for when determining which social media platforms for your business to use.

  1. Learn the Culture Through Observation

Each social media platform has a unique culture, and you can only learn it through observation. It will take some time to successfully harness each platform’s culture but it’s worth the effort. Observe what your competitors are doing and how customers are responding. Take note of what you like, and what you do not like. Then start engaging your audience! You will start notice what works for you, and what doesn’t.

To sum it up: understand the basics, find your audience, engage with them through the right outlets… and don’t feel pressure use them all!