As a business, using social media as a marketing tool is a necessity, not a suggestion.

But all social channels aren't created equal when it comes to value and results. In fact, knowing which social networks matter to your business can be confusing.

And spending time on the wrong networks is costly, even detrimental to a strategy.

Here's the top three social networks you should focus on today. Each will lead to business growth, profitability, and expanded brand identity.

1. Facebook

Facebook is the largest and most-used social network. It also has the most geographically balanced reach across the globe.

With active users now reaching over 1.8 billion, Facebook offers unparalleled opportunities. Even with the many changes and supposed lack of organic reach.

Jacob Warwick, founder of ThinkWarwick Communications says that, "Facebook has endured the test of time, offering tremendous organic and paid advertising features, spanning all demographics. It also reaches the largest group of people."

But he cautions that anyone using social media for business needs to test. "Look to each network for opportunities to market your brand. This will help you gain a more intimate understanding of the network and your audience."

What else can you do with Facebook?

  • Grow a targeted audience
  • Reduce marketing costs (organic reach isn't dead!)
  • Connect with past, current, and potential clients in the space they're most comfortable
  • Use data-driven Insights to create richer, more value-based experiences for your fans
  • Design content that solves the struggles of your current customers
  • Drive traffic to your website or blog
  • Share actionable tips that make your fan's life easier, better, more enjoyable
  • Create meaningful relationships that transition into lifetime buyers and clients

2. LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the go-to network for business professionals. But it's often misunderstood.

Erica Kessler, founder and CEO of Kessler Social Media explains.

"LinkedIn is the largest professional social media platform. It's where important decision makers are active online."

And it's not a network for job seekers only. Erica says anyone building a business can enjoy the benefits of LinkedIn.

"Focus on using LinkedIn as more than an online resume. Build professional relationships, grow company exposure, and better position your personal brand.

As an entrepreneur and author, Peg Fitzpatrick finds enormous value in LinkedIn.

"LinkedIn is a powerhouse of professional connections that can go beyond your social media presence and into your real-life career."

What else can you do in LinkedIn?

  • Recruit the most experienced and skilled professionals
  • Discuss market trends and company learnings
  • Connect with the right people - not just any people
  • Engage with professional thought leaders in any industry
  • Start and sustain vital business relationships

3. Twitter

As a marketer, I see relationships created and business awareness elevated on Twitter daily. And I'm not alone. With over 310 million active users, you'll be hard pressed not to find an audience.

Diana Adams, founder of Adams Consulting Group has been a longtime Twitter supporter. As a business professional on Twitter since March 2009, she's sent a whopping 170,000 tweets. That's a lot of networking, engaging, and relationship building.

"It's the best social network for business. Twitter keeps you up-to-date in your niche, helps you make important connections. and watch your competition. And since it's fast and easy to use, it can take as much or as little of your time as you want."

Adams sees Twitter as the best way to get your message out and in front of a large group eager to connect.

What else can you do on Twitter?

  • Amplify your content with increased sharing frequency
  • Get interactive in Twitter Chats to connect with your target market
  • Connect with people that have similar interests through hashtags
  • Use Twitter Lists to stay up-to-date with the people most valuable to your business
  • Create tweets that humanize your brand
  • Offer customer support to answer questions and concerns
  • Manage feedback and share user generated content

Finding Your Top Social Network

And as an owner or entrepreneur, building authority on social media has endless benefits.

You can:

  • Bring awareness of the brand to an untapped market
  • Establish company participation in community events, projects, and other human interests
  • Create opportunity for timely engagement with customers to resolve concerns, questions, and inquiries
  • Stay in direct contact with customers and potential clients
  • Gain access to customer feedback to:
  • Design customized content for specific market segments
  • Create a personalized experience across multiple channels

So which network should you invest in? The one where your audience is spending the most time.

Start with one, put a plan in place, and then learn everything you can.

Test, iterate, and watch your community grow.