When you’re creating strategic direction for business you need to have an overarching vision of what you want to achieve. From there it’s important to use each of your tools in the manner they were created for. (Although take note, ‘hacking’ tools to suit your specific needs could be a viable tactic if you know what you are doing and are innovative enough.)  When small businesses approach social media there is a temptation to use all of the tools in the same way. It’s easy to open Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc., accounts; it’s quite another thing to use them in the manner each was is designed for. Which one you focus on will largely depend on what kind of business you are in and what your goals are.

The first step, however, is to outline your marketing direction as a whole. That should fit within your larger business plan. From there you can derive strategic direction and decide what message you want to get out. More often than not you will use your website as the starting point, and from there leverage your social media campaigns. All too often I see companies with fragmented approaches, their message is different across platforms, and their website is the least updated of the lot.

Start with your business plan –> create your marketing goals –> create strategic direction to meet those goals –> implement with tactics.

In this process you may discover that many social media tools out there aren’t for you. It’s tempting to try to open every account, but the nature of social media is just that–it’s social. If you can’t be present in a particular platform then you mind as well not use it.

For example, Facebook is probably your best bet in terms of connecting with customers. They have the largest platform and the most users. You also have a number of tools where you can connect and socialize with your customers to like your Page. But if you are only posting to your Facebook Page once a month and it loses its power.

Twitter tends to be a platform that benefits for real-time or fresh information sent out routinely. For example, a restaurant with daily deals might benefit from a Twitter account to remind followers immediately about their deals. If you’re just auto-posting your new blog posts that happen once a month on your Twitter account then you are not leveraging it to the best of its capability.

The demographic of Pinterest is predominantly female so your product or service should be related to the culture of this platform. Linkedin is not necessarily a great place to find new customers, but tends to be an ok space to network with other professional. Youtube might be an option if you are predominately uploading new video content. And Google+ still lag behind all other competitors but has some robust features if you have a particular niche market.

All in all social media still remains a red herring when it comes to generating suitable revenue. Of course, that was never their intended purpose, revenue from social media can be important, but the first and foremost reason why you should have a presence is because you’re being social and have something of value to offer.

So take a look at your resources and decide what time you have to invest in specific platforms well. You’ll find that if you are offering value to your target market then garnering a tribe around your product or service is easier.