Recently a new branding client called me in a panic saying, "We have to get on Snapchat. It's the hottest thing. We can't miss the boat." I gently pointed out to the client that their core customer was women age 45-60, more likely the Pinterest -- not the Snapchat -- crowd.

This intense pressure to keep up with the online Joneses has led to a flurry of action, but not necessarily impact. The idea that you should be on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Instagram, and more leads many business owners to join each and every social media network--but do none of them well.

Instead, I encourage my small-business clients to think through the following three critical questions before choosing which social media sites to focus on:

1. Where and how does our ideal audience(s) consume their information?

Are they more likely to be reading blogs at Inc.com or surfing their Twitter feed three times a day? The answers help determine the social media site(s) that makes the best use of your resources.

2. What are the demographics of the various sites?

It's important to take into consideration the details of each site you are considering. For example:

Facebook. According to the Pew report, 72 percent of female and 63 percent of male Internet users are on Facebook, equaling over a billion users a month. The site also has a strong presence across several age groups with a majority being 18- to 29-year-olds, but with solid users in the 30-49 and 50-64 brackets as well.

For businesses that have a strong business-to-consumer component, Facebook is a great place to showcase your brand personality since the site supports posting pictures, quotes, and fun updates--all opportunities to present your brand narrative to followers.

Twitter. Twitter has an estimated 250 million unique monthly visitors but according to the Pew report is marginally more popular with males and with users ages 18-29. Unlike LinkedIn, where status updates can be weekly, successful Tweeters post at least 2-3 times a day, but no more than 8-10. Businesses using Twitter as a main social media strategy need to have a significant amount of how-to and informational tips, ideas, strategies, and suggestions they can tweet.

LinkedIn. Considered the top B2B site for professionals, LinkedIn tends to attract an older, more educated and higher earning crowd than its competitors. One report by Royal Pingdom reveals that 79 percent of LinkedIn users are 35 or older. In short, LinkedIn is all about business. According to Lab42, top-level executives primarily use LinkedIn for industry networking and promoting their business.

Pinterest. Pinterest is best known for appealing to a mostly female audience, with 72 percent of users being women at an average age of between 25 and 54. Twenty-five percent of Pinterest users have earned a bachelor's or higher degree, and the majority have a household income of between $25,000 and $75,000.

3. Do we have the time, talent, and/or money to pursue this social media tactic with excellence?

Another client I was working with--the CEO of a mid-cap high-tech firm--felt strongly that writing a regular blog would be of great benefit to his CEO brand and his company brand. The problem? He wasn't a very good writer.

I suggested someone from his staff might take on capturing his ideas and turning them into initial blog posts. Sadly, no such person existed. As for hiring a professional writer, the costs--given the quality the client wanted--were prohibitive.

In the final analysis the client settled on a strategy featuring a monthly, rather than a weekly, blog. He also went whole hog on his Twitter strategy--reaching out to influencers in their space to gain brand recognition.

Regardless of which direction you decide to take your social media strategy in, the most important aspects to building your brand online are consistency and quality. Don't let your social media accounts go idle, and don't bombard your followers with promotion-only posts.

Let the particular medium dictate what and how often you tweet, post, or pin, and you will be on your way to branding your business like a pro.

Published on: Aug 29, 2017