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Facebook? Twitter? LinkedIn? The Secret to Finding the Right Social Media Site for Your Business. How you can determine which social sites are best for you or your small business, and how to significantly ramp up the engagement there.

By Small Business PR

This story originally appeared on PR Newswire's Small Business PR Toolkit

It's becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with all of the social media changes. Now with the launch of Meerkat and Periscope and the recent Twitter/Google deal it seems loud and clear that social media is the best, and most innovative, place to gain more exposure and more customers for your small business.

If you've been in business for a while you've probably tested one or more social media sites. And maybe you're on all of them because you feel like being everywhere is an important part of your marketing? But the truth is that it's not. In fact, it's not about being everywhere but everywhere that matters. Why? Because effective social media isn't quantity, it's quality, and this goes for likes and followers, too.

So let's look at some ways you can determine which social sites are best for you or your small business, and how to significantly ramp up the engagement there:

Success leaves clues: First off, I want you to do some sleuthing. Many times we'll open accounts on a bunch of social media sites without doing any research. Where are your competitors? What sites are they on and what are they saying? Ignore their follower count and instead look at their engagement. Not only will this exercise help you better understand what's working and what isn't on social but it will also help you determine the best platforms for your message.

Figure out who your customers are: Do you know who you are serving, really? This is a key factor in where you will be spending your time because it's often where they spend their time. This is also often determined by the age of the customer, too. Snapchat, as an example, tends to pull in a younger demographic (18-34, according to ComScore). Facebook on the other hand went from having a younger demographic to seeing their site "age" as it were. The largest increase in users on Facebook from 2013 to 2014 was in the 65 and older category. Sites like Vine, Tumbler and Instagram also skew in the same age demographic as Snapchat, so 18-34. And social sites like Google+, Twitter, and Pinterest tend to see a similar age demographic as Facebook.

Figure out what they want: Some years ago I was living in New York and frequented a local hardware store that was having a hard time competing with Home Depot which a few blocks over. They'd tried doing a lot of social media but nothing seemed to work. One day I was having a chat with the owner and I asked him if he'd ever considered doing videos. Short how-to repair videos that their customers could view at home if they were trying to tackle a home repair like replacing the guts in a toilet tank or even the best way to put up a shelf (so it didn't collapse the minute you put stuff on it). Along with the videos they showed where to get the parts in their store. Often, if they were running a special, they'd organize the videos around a promotion or something. They also did these seasonally. The result was phenomenal. Their customers loved the videos and the personal touch they added. The videos weren't done in a studio; they were captured on a phone right there in the store. It was a low-cost way to bring in new people or to help the weekend warrior dig through projects faster and easier. By doing this, by identifying the needs of their customer they not only helped their existing client base but also brought in new people as customers spread the word about the helpful corner store. The videos were then shared on Facebook and Twitter – later Pinterest was added to the mix which increased their shares even more.

Knowing what drives your customer to consider your service or product will go a long way when figuring out a) what social site is best for you and b) now that you're there, what do you say?

Once you determine what drives them, figure out the best way to get your information to them and by "best way" I mean best format. Will it be video? This may also mean sharing other people's content, which is perfectly fine. That's what we do and if you want to become a resource I would consider doing that as well. Becoming the go-to for your industry is a great way to set yourself apart and drive even more attention to what you've got to offer, because it gives your followers confidence that you're sharing the best of the best, which is what's best for them.

Add value: This is something that I find a lot of folks forget to do. It becomes all about sharing and getting posts up and the value is often forgotten. Are you adding value? Does this post *really* matter to your customer? The more value you can add to their lives, the better and quicker you'll grow your engagement on social media.

Keeping it simple: On average, we read the equivalent of 175 newspapers each day. Startling figure, no? According to the book The Organized Brain, when you take into account ads on TV, billboards, social media, emails, and blogs posts, the number of things coming at us in a day is staggering. Do you want to add to that noise or help your customer filter through it? With so many of suffering from neuro-fatigue people are being much more selective about what they read, and speaking of that, have you noticed the new trend on blogs where they're including the approximate time it will take to read the post? Brilliant idea. Got five minutes, then here are some posts you'll love. If you blog, you could also segment your posts by topic and amount of time it will take to read them. Very soon consumers will start rejecting the constant flow of content and become wildly more selective about what they consume on a daily basis.

Figure out what you have time for: Sadly this is a question we often consider too late. Social media sites take time, a lot of time. What can you reasonably do and still create or share great content? Unless you do social media for a living you probably don't want to spend all your time on there so be honest with yourself in how much you can handle and either give up some social platforms or outsource the work if you know these platforms are important to your business.

Reuse, recycle: When you create content, consider how many different ways you can use it. Let's take the example of the hardware store doing video. So they used that video on YouTube, pinned it to Pinterest, shared a link to it on Twitter and also used the native video for Facebook. The key here is that you don't have to keep creating new content all the time. Reuse and repurpose. Maybe that video can now be an infographic, or if you have a podcast why not have that transcribed and use it for blog posts and/or social media tips? The key here is to create a content plan that isn't a one-hit-wonder. Create stuff that can get used in different formats across different channels.

The numbers never lie: Much like engagement numbers, traffic numbers to your site are important to track as well. If you have Google Analytics installed on the backend of your website, have a look at where your social media traffic is coming from. These numbers may surprise you. Check these numbers because they will tell you a lot and as you start ramping up new activity on a site watch it closely. Is the traffic to your site coming from this platform? If it is, good job, if it's not figure out why.

There was a time when being on social media meant being everywhere and if a new site popped up, you needed to start using it as well. While there's some merit to being an early adopter on new social sites, it may not be the best use of your time or your social marketing footprint. Seth Godin once said, "Social media is a great way to look busy." And while I agree with him to a point, it's also a great way to share your information and drive new business. They key is to define the difference between looking busy and being productive because they aren't the same thing. Often I see businesses that are very busy in social media but their work isn't really driving results. Clearly defining the needs of your customer and the limits of your time will go a long way to defining a social media action plan that not only works for you, but drives new business as well.

Written by Penny C. Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc.

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