Ushering your organization into the world of social media can be a frightening experience. The first rule you need to know: not every company, non-profit or state agency should be on every social network or use them in the same way.

Each social network was designed with a unique purpose in mind and they all fulfill different goals and types of measurement. However, social networks are not mutually exclusive, and tend to be more successful when using multiple channels simultaneously.

So, which social network is right for your brand? Ask yourself these questions first:

1.    Who is my target audience?

If you wish to attract a younger audience, LinkedIn is probably not your best choice. Almost 1 in 5 millennials use Snapchat, so it might be wise to consider creating your own account on the platform. Are you looking to reach reporters and important influencers in your industry? Twitter is a great way to connect with others informally in a way you may not have reached them otherwise. 

2.    What industry am I in?

It can be difficult to connect with such a specific group on a larger network, like Facebook, so more niche social media channels are being created. Social Media Examiner shares this list of niche social networks that will help you reach a smaller audience.

3.    What is my goal?

Do you want to raise awareness? Or do you want to generate leads? It is important to determine your goal before creating a social media strategy. Apple noticeably ignores social media, but recently created a Tumblr to promote the iPhone 5C. Though Apple has not commented on why it chose to create a Tumblr, my guess is their target audience coincides with the large majority of users on Tumblr. Tumblr also fosters creative, visual, advertising, which Apple is well known for.

4.    How much time do I plan to invest?

Social media can take a lot of time to execute optimally. You could spend all day engaging and updating your Twitter account, while you could post 2 videos per month on YouTube. Depending on your audience and goals, your time will be spent differently.

5.    What type of content will I produce?

More creative content is better leveraged on YouTube, a blog, or Facebook, while Twitter is great for newsworthy posts and stories. LinkedIn allows job postings and intellectual discussions on industry-specific topics. There is a place on social media for each type of content, so make sure you choose the best one for your brand!