More and more businesses are feeling the pressure to dominate social media. It wasn’t that long ago that real-world companies began to realize the importance of creating a website, practicing SEO, and building an online presence. These things are still important, but the power of social media to increase awareness of a brand and outreach opportunities cannot be denied.

As the concept of content marketing becomes more prevalent, business owners are seeing the importance of forging relationships with consumers, sans hard sell. They are starting to offer value to customers with no demand for immediate reciprocation by way of purchases.

Social media plays an instrumental role in this equation – it is one of the primary vehicles by which businesses may most easily generate new leads and begin the process of building an emotional bond with consumers, eventually leading to calls-to-action, conversions, and ultimately, sales and customer loyalty if all goes well.

This all sounds great, so what’s the problem? For many businesses the problem is saturation. There are so many social media platforms to choose from, with new options springing up seemingly by the day.

Not only are there plenty of platforms, but many offer vastly different features, making it difficult to perform side-by-side comparisons. So how is a harried business owner supposed to figure out which options are best? Here are a few things to consider before you decide.

Popularity

Remember when everyone said you could stop playing the popularity game once you became an adult and started your real life? Sorry, they were wrong, although perhaps they never saw social media coming.

Popularity was important in high school, and it’s important now. More users mean more potential leads and followers – it’s as simple as that. You can’t afford to ignore this factor if you want to make the most of your social media efforts.

Features

If you need one solid reason to choose Facebook above all other platforms (and you feel that their massive popularity doesn’t qualify), consider the features offered by this site. One thing Facebook is really great at is understanding what users want and finding ways to provide it. In many ways, they are an amalgam of several other existing platforms.

One only has to see how they improved upon the existing idea behind MySpace to understand that this company is not afraid to take a good idea and make it better. Just look at the recent updates to Facebook Live, a streaming video tool that mimics the features of competitor Periscope and now Snapchat, thanks to the addition of doodles.

Facebook has proved again and again that they have a finger on the pulse of the consumer public, and the technology-driven consumer in particular. They’re also willing to buy what they don’t have or can’t copy. Case in point: Instagram, which they purchased in 2014 for a whopping $1 billion.

Of course, Facebook isn’t the only game in town, even if they do boast the largest following and arguably the most features. Twitter and Pinterest are both strong contenders, and each offers some unique features that business interests are turning to their advantage.

It behooves you to review several of the most popular platforms, including up-and-comers like Yik Yak (for local sharing), Peach (a cross between Twitter and Slack, with hints of Snapchat and Tumblr thrown in for good measure), and social shopping app Wanelo (a mashup of want-need-love). Each has features that could benefit businesses in different ways, so you’ll need to prioritize if you want to narrow it down.

Peripherals

You wouldn’t dream of spending money on SEO or online marketing without tracking results for later analysis. The same considerations apply to social media and some platforms simply provide more tools to help you out.

You not only need to investigate the features of different platforms, but also the peripherals they offer or that have been created by third-party providers. The right tools for tracking, analysis, and even automation could make your job a lot easier.

Professional Help

If you’re relatively new to the world of social media, you could probably benefit from some professional advice when it comes to choosing the best platforms to complement your business and your current marketing strategy. You may also want someone to helm the ship for you by managing your accounts.

You’re not alone. Although managing social media profiles and making the most of what they have to offer will take some amount of effort on your part, you can definitely hand the reins to an experienced professional that has the chops to gain followers, attract social influencers, and put your Facebook page or Twitter feed on the map, so to speak.

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