There is no doubt that social media has become an integral part of our society and an important part of any business’ marketing plan.  Some sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter have become ubiquitous and part of our mainstream culture. But while it is important to have a presence on many social media sites, it would be wise to consider which social media presence will benefit your business the most. When it comes to choosing a social media site, select ones that are best aligned with your communication goals and where your target market is likely to be found.

Here is a look at some of the major players in social media and some considerations to think about in terms of what’s right for your business:

  • Facebook – is the king of all social media.  With over 900 million users having a Facebook page for any kind of business is a must today.   All businesses should create a “fan page” and consider pages for brands and their products.  It is important to leverage this platform by actively engaging your customers with questions, comments and images.  ‘Sharing’ and ‘Liking’ can increase a company’s visibility and thus ultimately translate into profit.
  • Twitter is useful for many businesses as well.  The 140 character messages are perfect for sending out announcements and promotions, getting a message out quickly and creating buzz about you or the brand you are selling. Easily connecting with potential customers through the use of hashtags. Offering discounts to existing and new customers. Hashtags can help spread the word about your discounts to new audiences.
  • Instagram, the increasingly popular social network for sharing mobile photos treated with quirky filters, helps you connect with customers in a visual way.  It is good for showing off your products or expertise.
  • LinkedIn is a social network for professionals. It is best for B2B and ideal for marketing and sales.  It is also great for connecting with others within a given industry and reaching out to prospective employers and employees.
  • Google’s + Local , this business directory is starting to replace Google Places. If you want your business to be found through local search and you want to highlight customer reviews and ratings, Google+ Local is worth a look. Content in your Google+ posts may turn into highly ranked search results on Google (again, inside or outside the Google+ environment) – providing keyword and topic-relevant search engine visibility that improves based on your  content-specific engagement levels and author rank.

There are other popular sites such as Tumblr (an online bulletin board that’s heavy on the visuals and backed by a community big on sharing)  Pinterest and YouTube.  Take time to investigate and learn about these platforms so you can make the most of your social media engagement and do what is best for your business.