If you’re getting started on social media, you may feel overwhelmed by all the social media platforms your business can join.

Before we work out what are the best social media channels for your business, let’s define what a “social media channel” means.

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, would be a place where you can create and share information with others.

With that in mind, here are a few social media channels you could potentially join:

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

Put simply: there are lots of social media channels you could be spending your valuable time on.

In business, as you know, 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 may say you need to join every channel. But that’s not true (I’ll explain why a bit later on).

In fact, even us at Skyline Social, are not on every social media channel and we are a social media agency! So no, your business does not have to be on every social media channel.

In fact, I recommend you join one or two to start off with, and then add more as you go along.

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 lots of social media channels, 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 gets it.

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 actually 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. How much money do you have to spend on 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 social media channels available, there are only five big ones. This means chances are very high your customers can be found on one or more of these social media channels.

This also makes your job a bit easier as you don’t need to be searching through long lists 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 everyday (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 assumptions. Do your research. For example, I’ve had lots of clients tell me that their target audience are not using Facebook or Instagram. But when we’ve done the research, we found out 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 in this article, you don’t want to spread yourself too thin. It’s better to have a strong presence on one or two social media channels, than have a weak presence on lots.

To make sure you have a strong presence, you need to consider how much time and resources you have to dedicate to each of the different social media channels.

Some social media channels require more work than others.

For example, on YouTube, you will need to be creating videos on a regular basis, for your business to get any momentum on that platform. Do you have the time and resources to dedicate to create regular videos? If so, great. If not, it might be better to start with some of the other social media 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 to us).

How much money do you have to spend on social media?

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

Facebook & Instagram (who are part of the same company) are the leaders when it comes to paid advertising on social media, for two main reasons.

  1. They have the most amount of people using their platforms
  2. Their algorithm and targeting options are incredibly smarter than anything else out there
  3. It’s easy to get started and they support all kinds of advertising campaigns

If you have money to spend, Facebook and Instagram, is a great place to generate leads, reach a huge amount of people and scale up your marketing campaign.

It’s worth noting, however, that if you don’t have any budget on Facebook, then posting on that social media 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 reach.

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

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

The good news is that this method, even though it doesn’t have as much scalability has 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 going to be 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 in action.

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

What is the right social media channel for you?

As you can see, 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 most of 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.