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With so many social media networking sites out there, it can get a little confusing on which sites to use for your business. While Facebook and Twitter are suitable for everyone, what about Google Plus, Reddit, Pinterest, Instagram and the rest?

Should your business be using them?

 

Here’s 4 questions to ask yourself to leverage the right social media platforms for your business.

Where are your customers from?

Every social media site I’ve listed in this article so far has a giant user base in the United States, but what if your customers are from China? Baidu is currently the 4th most visited website in the world and receives 93% of its traffic from China. It’s the equivalent of Facebook for Asia.

What if you have a small demographic in Russia? VKontakte is the biggest social media site in Russia and popular in Germany and Ukraine. India is well known for having the largest set of users on Quora, while Reddit is dominated with male users from England, Australia and the United States.

To find out which social media networks are most popular where, visit Alexa who provide metrics on website popularity by country.

Who are your customers?

Did you know that 72% of all Pinterest users are female?

stats

If your business sells primarily to men, using social networking sites such as Pinterest, Tagged and Mylife make little sense. Alternatively, Reddit, Digg and Google Plus shouldn’t be first choice for businesses who focus on selling to women.

While gender plays an important role in selecting the right social media networks, how can businesses who sell to both sexes make better choices to picking the right social media platforms?

Segment social media sites by age.

Here’s a snapshot of the age demographics of the most popular social media sites created by Pingdom in 2012:

stats

You can get an updated version of metrics for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest here. Video based social sites such as YouTube and Vine generally cater to a much younger audience compared to other social sites which focus more on text and images.

What type of content do you produce?

There’s little point in creating a YouTube channel if you only produce articles and image content. Sharing articles is easy on Twitter, Google Plus, Facebook and Reddit, while visual content works better on YouTube and Pinterest and Instagram.

If your business’s target market is teenagers, but the bulk of your content creation is articles and blogs, perhaps it would be much wiser to create videos on YouTube to reach out more effectively?

Twitter allows only 140 characters and works great for short updates and link inserts, while Stumble Upon can make great content go viral.

Instead of focusing on the content you create, find the social networking platforms your audience visits and find what is most popular there. For example, high quality images is what trends most on Instagram, if your audience loves Instagram, spend time creating images to capture their attention.

How much time are you willing to spend on social media?

A question I get asked a lot is:

How many social media networks does my business need to be on?

There is no right number. Personally, I think spending 4-5 hours on each social media platform per week should be the minimum time you should invest. If you’re only willing to spend 10 per week on social media, this means you should only be using two platforms.

It’s better to focus on two accounts in that 10 hour window then allocate an hour each to 10. Building a social media following is not easy, and only spending 1 hour per week on 10 platforms is not going to yield any measurable result.

Businesses who join too many social platforms usually give-up after a few weeks and abandon their accounts. That’s why you see social media accounts of businesses which were last updated in 2009, they bit off more than they could chew.

Don’t jump the gun, there is nothing stopping you from creating more profiles later.

Summary

Facebook and Twitter are the only two universal social media accounts that all businesses should use, they are used globally and allow you to share all types of multimedia content. The other business social networks depend on your location, customers, content and how much time you can allocate to your social media marketing strategy.

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