When it comes to picking which social media platform you'll use, select those that offer the best potential for reaching your target audience and communicate the type of media you've chosen is best suited for your business. Most people and business can't be astounding on every platform; that takes a huge amount of bandwidth and resources. Instead of having a sub-par representation in a lot of places, be awesome on a few of them. A general rule of thumb is to focus on developing a strong brand presence on three social media channels. But, which ones are right for you? Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr… the list goes on and on. Fortunately, there’s a fairly simple set of criteria that will help you craft the perfect recipe for your businesses’ social media success. Before you begin to develop your social media strategy, here are some important criteria to consider:

1. What are your goals?

Without a clear idea of the results you want, your program may not reach its potential. People with written goals are 50% more likely to achieve than people without goals. A similar principle applies to business. Setting clear, measurable goals is one of the most powerful things you can do to increase your odds of success. Possible goals for your social media program could be: increasing conversions, driving website traffic, and growing direct engagement with your audience.

2. Your Target Demographic

Identifying your target demographic and discovering where they spend the most time online is key to selecting the right social media channels for your brand. Social media activity varies by age, profession, geographic location, and more, so do your research.

3. Budget

As the saying goes, one has to spend money to make money. Marketing departments are realizing the importance of a strong social media program and are increasing their budget allocation. Once you have a clear set of answers to the criteria above, it will be much easier to choose the platforms that will serve your brand best. Use these as stepping stones to creating a solid strategy that clearly communicates your brand and helps drive lead generation activities. There are certain platforms that are clearly a good fit for your business. But I recommend basing that on several factors that you can measure and observe, including insights gleaned directly from your customers and prospects. Some factors to consider include:

  • Note which of your current profiles gets the most traction.
  • Measure profile growth by both followers and engagements.
  • Evaluate website analytics to see which channel drives the most traffic.
  • Examine the conversion success of that traffic.
  • Determine what content format resonates best with your audience (written, visual, or video) since that can also influence which social network they frequent.
  • Be aware of which platform is used by other companies in your industry.

Also, It’s important to remember to follow up your social media efforts with a close look at metrics to ensure you are achieving your goals, or to see how to improve your brand’s relevance to your audience. Here’s a quick snapshot of the top 5 social media metrics that your business should be tracking:

  • Reach
  • Engagement
  • Acquisition
  • Conversion
  • Activity

Choosing the right platform for your business is the first step to running a successful social media campaign. Whether your choices are being driven by which networks your audience spends time on, analytical data or how best to showcase your content, harness the power of those network’s best practices to increase your ROI.