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Social media is an ever-growing presence in the world today. The latest research from the Pew Research Center shows that well over 60% of adults between the ages of 18-64 regularly use social media, with the engagement going up for the younger ages in the range. The reality is that most of the people you want to engage with for your business or your professional network are on one of the major social networks. You probably are too.
Are you using social media effectively? Or are you a bit confused by the whole thing? Don’t worry. In this article we’re going to cover some of the social media basics for you so you no longer have to wonder if you’re using it effectively.

The Different Platforms

There are so many social media platforms now, that it can be confusing which ones are for what. It’s easy to make simple mistakes and not utilize a given platform effectively, but it’s also embarrassing and, potentially, costly. Here’s a list of a few of the more popular platforms.

Facebook

By far this is the most popular social media platform currently in use. The wide cross-section of potential customers, along with powerful, targeted advertising options, makes this one an absolute must for business owners. While it is not specifically for professionals, or one type of content, its broad appeal allows you to put a more personal face on your business and draw in a larger pool of potential customers.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a social media platform more oriented towards professional content. That said, content creators have found an incredible platform on LinkedIn, as the network actively encourages the creation of content. This is especially true of native video. This platform is especially useful for trying to engage a more professional audience and build authority/credibility through content.

Twitter

One note about Twitter is that it operates at an incredible speed, making its upkeep almost a full-time job in and of itself. If you’re going to engage on this platform effectively and regularly be ready for a serious time commitment.

Instagram

Instagram is focused on visual storytelling through picture and video sharing. Facebook owns it, and the two accounts can be linked to enable easy content sharing. If you have a strong visual element to your business, like restaurants for example, then this is definitely a platform you should be on.

YouTube

Believe it or not, YouTube is rising as a social media platform, with a growing community of professionals and creators engaging regularly. Video content, as well as podcasts, are finding a strong home on the platform, so if these are things you utilize as part of your business, you should be here.

Doing the Social Media Thing

With knowledge of the platforms available, the next obvious question is what do I do with them. As we showed you before, they all have different uses and methods, but there are some general rules that apply to them all.

Make Sure Your Profile Is Complete

When setting yourself up on these networks, take the time to build out a full profile. None of us are surprised by the idea of security risks online, and these fake accounts often don’t have full profiles associated with them. As such, people have started to take a closer look at who is speaking. So make certain you have your full personal and business page filled out. It not only makes them feel better, but it also allows them to get to know you better.

Post Regularly and Make it Worthwhile

If you want to draw people to you on social media, you need them to see you. This is accomplished by posting regularly, but made so much easier by posting interesting, relevant, and valuable content. An easy error to make is to post one piece of content, say a video, and then not post again for several weeks while preparing the next one. Develop a solid content strategy and make sure you are posting consistently and regularly to make the most of this amazing resource.

Engage!

Just like posting regularly, make sure you engage on social media. Not just with your content, but with those things posted by others as well. You’re trying to build relationships in a digital format, and people want to be valued. So check out some of the content other people are putting up, then like, comment, and share it. When they engage with yours, respond to them, answer their questions, and let them know you appreciate the engagement. It’ll pay off huge!

Social media doesn’t have to be intimidating. It’s just a matter of knowing what platforms are best used for what, and then sticking to some basic principles while utilizing them. If you stick to the ones that get you the engagement you’re looking for, producing great content, and engaging meaningfully with others, it will be a valuable tool.