If you’re just getting started on social media, you might feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of social platforms available to your business. Yes, it can seem daunting but we’re here to help you choose the channels best suited to what you are trying to achieve.

However, before we do this , let’s define what a “social media platform” is.

What is social media?

According to wikipedia: “Social media are computer-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas, career interests and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks.”

So in other words, a social media channel is a space where you can create and share information with others.

Examples of social media channels you can join include:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Snapchat
  • Pinterest
  • YouTube
  • Medium
  • Google+
  • Tumblr
  • Quora

As you can see, there are lots of platforms to choose from.

In business, time is money, so when it comes to using social media for business, you need to be spending your time wisely.

Does your business need to be on all the social media channels?

No. When getting started on social media, some people will say you need to join every channel. Thankfully, that’s not true (I’ll explain why a bit later on).
In fact, even at Skyline Social we are not on every social media channel, despite being a social media agency! In fact, we highly recommend businesses only join one or two channels to start off with, and then add more as you go along and become more comfortable maintaining your online presence.

By joining a few social media channels at a time, you won’t spread yourself too thin. It’s easier to focus and post quality content on one channel than it is to join several and use them sporadically.

Top tip: Although you might not be active on all the social media channels, it’s a good idea to create an account and grab your preferred company username, before someone else does!

How do you decide the best social media channels to join?

If you don’t need to be on every social media channel, how do you decide which ones to join and use?

There are three questions to ask yourself to help you decide:

  1. What social media platforms are your potential customers using?
  2. How much time and resources do you have to spend on social media?
  3. What budget do you have to invest in social media?

Let’s go through each of these questions one by one.

What social media channels are your customers using?

Although there are lots of channels available, there are only five main ones. This means chances are high that your customers can be found on one or more of them.

It also makes your job a bit easier, as you don’t need to be searching through the long list of social media channels to join.

The big ones are:

  • Facebook (Over 2 billion active users)
  • YouTube (Over 1 billion active users)
  • Instagram (Over 700 million active users)
  • Twitter (Over 300 million active users)
  • LinkedIn (Over 100 million active users*)

*LinkedIn has over 500 million users, but not everyone is active and uses it daily (in my opinion, this will increase in the future though!)

What one of those social media channels would you say your target audience are using?

Top tip:Don’t jump to conclusions. Do your research. For example, I’ve had clients tell me that their target audience are not using Facebook or Instagram. However, when we’ve done the research, we found that they are! If you’re not sure, you can always ask me, and I’ll be happy to help you find out.

I strongly recommend you join the social media channel(s) that your target audience are using.

How much time and resources does your business have for social media?

As I mentioned earlier, you don’t want to spread yourself too thin when using social media. It’s better to have a strong presence on one or two channels than have a weak presence across many.
To make sure you maintain a strong presence, you need to consider how much time and resources you can dedicate to each social media channel you use.
Some social media channels require more work than others.
For example, on YouTube, you will need to create videos on a regular basis to build any momentum. Do you have the time and resources to dedicate to creating videos? If so, great. If not, it might be better to start with other channels instead.
As a minimum for any social media channel you join, you need to be:

  1. Posting content regularly
  2. Engaging or responding to any messages, comments, etc

Top tip: if you don’t have the time to post on social media, you can always outsource or hire people to help you (learn about outsourcing your social media here).

What budget do you have to spend on social media?

If you have a marketing budget available to invest in social media, you can use paid advertising to help you generate leads. Paid advertising, when used correctly, can be incredibly effective in helping you find and reach out to your ideal customers.

Facebook and Instagram (who are owned by the same company) are leaders when it comes to paid advertising on social media.

This is for three main reasons.

  1. They have the highest number of users on their platforms
  2. Their algorithm and targeting options are much smarter than on other platforms
  3. It’s easy to get started, with support for all kinds of advertising campaigns

If you have money to invest then Facebook and Instagram are a great place to generate leads, reach a huge number of people and scale up your marketing campaign.

It’s also worth noting that if you don’t have a budget for Facebook, then posting on that particular channel won’t get you very far.

The Facebook newsfeed has so many people and companies competing for “space” that unless you pay money to Facebook (or something you post goes viral) it’s going to be very difficult to generate a lot of organic reach.

What is the best social media channel for a business on a small budget?

If you have no, or very little, advertising budget for social media, then you will need to grow your online presence organically, by spending time finding, following and engaging with your potential customers.

The good news is that this method, even though it doesn’t have the scalability of Facebook ads, still produces excellent results.

The best social media channels to find, follow, engage and build a strong presence on, with a minimal budget, are Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

See also: How to generate leads organically on Twitter without spending a penny on paid ads as an example of how to do this.

YouTube is another great social media channel where you can grow organically, as long as you’re producing high quality content on a regular basis.

Which is the right social media channel for you?

As you can tell, there are lots of things to consider before your business starts using social media.

To make things easier for you, here’s what I normally recommend to our clients (assuming your target audience are on these channels too):

  1. Join Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and/or LinkedIn
  2. Post social media updates regularly on all these channels (you can use software to post at the same time and save you time)
  3. If you have a budget to spend on advertising, then do Facebook and Instagram ads. If you have a small (or no) budget, then spend time generating leads organically on Twitter and LinkedIn instead.
  4. Once you’ve mastered these social media channels, create videos, and join YouTube too (it’s the world’s second largest search engine so you’d be crazy to miss out on all this potential free traffic).

Remember, joining and being active on social media is just the start. The next step is to generate leads on social media and convert these leads into paying customers.