Each social platform serves a different purpose. You don't need to be present on every channel to market your business - only the ones that matter to you and your customers. Using just a few platforms competently is a lot more effective than using every platform badly. Here is an overview of the differences between each of the major social platforms, to offer direction to which are best suited to your business.

Facebook

What business doesn't have a Facebook page? Facebook is a great place to humanise your brand, for example by sharing photos of your team members at events or with clients, as it’s somewhere your audience can see the people behind the business. There are over a billion active daily users on Facebook, so it’s almost certain that the person you want to know about your business is out there. Organic reach may be tough, but putting a little money into Facebook Ads is a cost-effective way of reaching a relevant, targeted audience.

Twitter

Twitter is a great place to interact with people and offer personalised customer service. It is an incredibly active channel where you can never Tweet too often, and is the perfect platform for establishing your brand’s tone of voice. Hash tags are huge on Twitter meaning it’s a good platform to Tweet about trending topics and current events. If you’re a business that wants to show that you’re not a robot, and want to communicate a personality to your customers – then Twitter is a good place to get involved in, and spark conversation.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is referred to as the professional network and has great opportunities for B2B marketing. Your audience is more likely to consist of professionals and people in business, compared to Facebook and Twitter which are home to more people using social for leisure rather than for business. It allows you to advertise job openings so eliminates the need to use jobsites or agencies, and other features unique to LinkedIn such as SlideShare offer a great opportunity to show off your expertise.

Google+

Google+, like Facebook and LinkedIn, is another one of those platforms that your business should definitely use. Having a Google+ page for your business will improve your visibility on Google search, and will allow Google to show information such as your opening times, location, reviews and a contact number. It also allows you to create communities to share your content, so you can connect with others in your industry. The disadvantage of Google+ is the audience reach is significantly lower than the likes of Facebook and Twitter, meaning it shouldn’t be used as the basis of a social campaign, it should be there to compliment strategies implemented on the big ones.

Instagram

Instagram has become huge in recent years. It is a trendy, visual platform which is popular amongst consumers, and is of particular importance to Millennials. Like Twitter, Instagram is great for using hash tags – posts receive much higher reach and engagement when they have supporting hash tags and your pictures can be seen by thousands of people outside of your direct following. However, people aren’t likely to show much interest in your Instagram feed if there aren’t ‘fun’ photos showcased, so it’s another platform that requires a bit of personality to work.

Pinterest

Pinterest is another visual platform that is popular amongst consumers. If you have a flair for design, Pinterest is great to have an elegant hub for creative imagery. Unlike Instagram which is generally for sharing your own photos, Pinterest is more about curating others’ images and using them to communicate your interests and brand personality, and is useful in driving traffic to your website. Pinterest is however, only likely to be successful for brands in certain industries, such as travel, fashion, beauty and food, as those are some of the most popular categories for 'pinning'.

Whichever social platforms used for marketing or to establish your business online, the most important thing to remember is that it is not a case of ‘if you build it, they will come’. There’s a lot more to creating a social media presence than setting up an account and uploading your company logo - to be successful you need to use each platform correctly and share content relevant to your online community.