We’ve all seen those idyllic family vacation photos or have received numerous requests to connect virtually. Occasionally, you may be green with envy or questioning how your profile was found, you might have also wondered how your small business can take advantage of these platforms.

So why jump in? Simply, it’s about having collaborative interactions with customers, prospects and even employees. It allows your business to gain valuable insights, cultivate long-lasting relationships and foster customer advocates. It’s not too late, as research indicates 69% of the public is using some type of social media.

Know your platforms. It’s important that you choose the social media platform(s) that work best for your business. Each of these platforms have a unique, dedicated audience, so be certain that you speak directly to their intended audience.

facebook logo iconFacebook is the biggest social network on the web. With over 1 billion users, the chances are pretty high that your employees and customers are actively using Facebook. You can find anything from family vacation photos, opinions on the latest hot topics, invitations to events and old friends who want to reconnect. Interestingly, according to the Pew Research Center, Facebook usage is almost equally spread between gender, income levels and location. Where it differs is by education, as only 56% of those with high school or less education utilize this platform versus 77% for college graduates. Age is another differentiating factor, only 36% of those age 65+ utilize the platform, while 88% for those between the ages of 18-29.

  • Use this site to promote your brand and tone. Your posts should include major company announcements, industry insights and images and videos which show off your business.

linkedin logo iconLinkedIn is a community for professionals. The platform has quickly grown from 4,500 members in 2003 to 467 million members today. According to the Pew Research Center, LinkedIn usage is especially high among educated, high earners (making $75,000+ a year). For an individual, it is an online resume for prospective employers or an opportunity to find prospects. More often than not, after your initial cold call, your LinkedIn profile was viewed. The good news – LinkedIn lets you know who viewed your profile.

  • Use this site to promote press releases, talk about new, significant hires or provide industry insight, including best practices and advancements. Your Company Description page should be very informative for visitors seeking to learn more about your business. Keep your articles professionally oriented.

twitter logo iconWith Twitter, you can share short text updates (of 140 characters or fewer), along with videos, images, links, polls and more. It’s easy to interact with other users or businesses by mentioning their usernames in your posts. However, it is reported only 21% of U.S. adults are using this platform.

  • Since it’s only 140 characters, you should use this site to send a quick message which ultimately gets clicks to your website.

There’s more. PinterestInstagramSnapChat, and YouTube are visual social media platforms based entirely on photo and video posts. These platforms are not ideal for all businesses. If you can visually capture your brand, products and/or services, then these social media sites may be a great option for you.

Be helpful, consistent and stay true to your brand.

Each social media post, whether it’s sharing a photo, press release, blog or video should provide a positive interaction with customers, prospects and employees. It is not about pushing out promotional materials to your audience. By actively and consistently managing your social media platforms you will be able to develop feedback loops for product and customer service improvements.

And don’t forget, your employees are your best brand advocates. Encourage them to add their current position at your company to their profiles. This will automatically make them followers of your page, and will feature your Company Page on their profiles, helping to drive more traffic your way. If they take action on your post it increases your reach to their personal network. So don’t be afraid to ask them to “like” or share the post if they agree. After all, the more reach, the more engagement and interactions that you can utilize to promote your business.