This can be a daunting question for small and medium businesses who want to take their social media presence more seriously, as they should. Declaring you are going to make your business presence known on all channels and give all your marketing budget to advertising on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or anyone else who offers ads is certainly not a great approach. Conversely, focusing solely on one channel and hoping organic posts of your specials get you lots of new customers is just as big of a misstep.

So how to go about figuring it out? These are by no means all the considerations. Social media is constantly changing, new channels come on the scene added, and businesses use channels in new ways all the time that you may want to emulate. Before you act, consider these 3 things:

#1. What are your goals?

Different channels lend themselves not only to different types of businesses but also to different types of goals. I often advocate for a 2-3 channel approach. Because Facebook is so universal, there are few times this giant wouldn’t be on the list. So then we are down to 1 or 2 more or what I call your “additional (or other) channels”. Are you trying to educate on why your services are helpful or increase subscribers to your “how to” video series?  YouTube, and Pinterest may be perfect solutions for you. Are you a restaurant that wants to be known for a fun, party atmosphere and have your current patrons dine with you more regularly? Instagram is ideal for this but also employing a Facebook “group” is an excellent way to connect at a deeper level and allow your fans to feel as though they are an insider. Are you B2B who would like to increase your networking capabilities and establish yourself as an authority in your field? Of course using LinkedIn is essential in addition to Facebook. Familiarize yourself with each platform. If you can, reach out to a Social Media Strategist. Even some hourly consulting to help you not only discern but optimize each of these channels.

#2. Who are your targeting?

Who is your ideal customer? Without this knowledge, you will be taking some stabs in the dark. Although some of those stabs may happen to produce some results, the business world has long been aware that if you are not aiming at a specific target, you will most certainly miss the mark. Even if you are an existing business, periodically revisiting this question is a great marketing practice. The devil is in the details, right? You should know as much as possible about the “person” as possible. Age, gender, education level, income level, interests, family life and more. Once you are clear on this, you will probably easily see which channels your audience is on already; so be where they are.

#3. Who is going to manage it?

There are best practices, algorithms, etiquette and more and when you properly exercise them, they can turn the heads of the audience in your direction. The person doing your community management must respond to comments and messages on each of these channels in a timely fashion. Educate them if there are particular responses you would like made publicly if a customer posts a complaint to your account in any way.   If you don’t have someone in house who is versed at each channel you have chosen, outsourcing is usually the most cost effective way to get off on the right foot.   Sure you can hire a teenager or let the summer intern do it, but social media is here for the long haul. Making room in the marketing budget for someone skilled to manage it as part of your long term media strategy shows you are serious about business.

This is an exciting time in social media, no doubt. If you haven’t already, now is the time to start building your stable of raving fans and exposing your business to an audience that might want what you have to offer. A strategic approach will take some of the worry out of the process.