When you are looking for serious exposure in your marketplace, as well as developing new marketing opportunities, you need to harness the power of social media to help get your messages and information across.

That doesn’t mean you have to ignore the traditional forms of marketing that may have served you well in the past and can still make an impact on existing or potential customers. But social media is now an essential marketing tool for your brand to remain relevant and visible in the fast-moving online world.

Depending on what products and services you are offering, you should draw up a strategic plan to focus on what social media outlets are the best match for your business. That needs some careful thought and good research because there is little point in using outlets that your customers are not already plugged into.

You are most likely aware of the major platforms that exist. Indeed, you could hardly miss some of the stories about the likes of Facebook and Twitter that have been flooding traditional media, but the key question to ask is which ones are likely to give you the most exposure to the right audience.

So, what do you need to look for?

Research the choices

Although there are social media platforms that top the tables for the amount of traffic they get, there are many others that are not as well-known but may be useful in terms of connecting people with shared interests or having similar hobbies. What you probably shouldn’t do is to try to get a presence on too many networking sites as you’ll spend more time trying to monitor everything than it’s worth.

At this early stage it may be helpful to bring a marketing and management consultant in to work with you as you begin to make decisions. Stan Gershengoren is a highly experienced consultant who knows his way around social media marketing. If that marketing field is relatively new to you, Stan Gershengoren will provide the knowledge and support that you need. That support will cut down on the time you need to spend on research and help you develop the most appropriate options for your business.

What are your goals? 

As you research the variety of social media platforms available you also need to focus on what you want to achieve by using them. Setting specific goals means that it’s easier to determine which social media platforms to choose and work on the content you want to provide.

You can make a major difference to improving your customer service when you provide another platform for customers to come to you with questions, complaints and concerns, and you can also identify new prospects and leads who have similarities with your best customers.

The right social media platform can also help you to reach new audiences and demographics, potentially receptive to your services and products and boosting your brand awareness as new prospectsbecome aware of what you have to offer. You can drive more people to your site, especially as you learn more about what your audience is interested in and their buying habits.

What sites is your audience already using?

Be realistic here. Just because you think a particular site is great it’s not much use if your audience is not engaged with it. A simple way to find out what sites your customers use is through a survey where you can ask them what social media they favor, the places they get their online information and which influencers they tend to listen to. Add in a sweetener such as a discount voucher for completed surveys and you could have a treasure trove of useful information for your ongoing marketing.

You can also go through social media sites themselves, telling them about your ideal customers and they can estimate an audience size for your business.

Tailor your content

Good content is essential for social media platforms and one size doesn’t fit all. If you want to use a site that is mainly about pictures but you’re more focused on text-based information, then it’s not a good fit. Study your options to see where content such as blog posts, podcasts, webinars and livestreams would work best and tailor make that content to work effectively with them.

Develop for the future

Social media marketing is an indispensable tool for the online world. When you get your research and implementation right you have access to a powerful medium to get your messages across to a wide audience.