Should your business be on these social media platforms?

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Using social media is an integral part of doing business in the digital age. Here's our guide to the top 10 platforms.

Social media sites can be a relatively low-cost way to expand your customer base and help you connect with your industry. Social media can also increase the reach of your marketing messages and provide valuable insights on what works and what doesn't.

Successful social media strategies rely on good content, so you'll need to think about the stories your business can tell and imagery you can share. The biggest social networks from Facebook to Pinterest, Google+ to Instagram are all centred on visual content.

Here are 10 social media platforms to consider for your business.

Social media sites

Facebook
Facebook is the world's most popular social media website and has high usage in Australia, so it provides businesses with a great way to connect with customers. You can use your business page to post useful content frequently, to entice your fans to keep returning. You can also promote posts, so that more of your fans see your messages in their Facebook feed.

YouTube
This popular video-sharing platform has over one billion unique visitors a month. Businesses can create a YouTube channel and use YouTube to show product commercials, video customer testimonials and how-to guides.

LinkedIn
If you're a B2B business, most people would consider LinkedIn one of the leaders of the pack because of its enormous reach and multiple benefits. You can use LinkedIn to research other companies before dealing with them and employees and employers can find and post jobs while conducting research on one another. Joining groups or starting your own group allows you to network and share information with others in your industry, as well as prospective customers.

Twitter
Twitter allows users to send and receive 146-character messages called tweets. Users can choose to follow the messages of people or businesses that interest them. Many overseas businesses use Twitter as a customer service channel.

Google+ and Google+ Business
Currently the second-largest social networking site by sign-ups, Google+ allows users to employ circles to categorise their connections. You can also use Google Hangouts to have video-based chats with contacts or customers. Google+ has experienced greatest take-up among the tech and IT industries, but is yet to become as mainstream as Facebook.

Pinterest
Pinterest is a pinboard-style site that has experienced rapid growth over the last couple of years. It allows users to share images and group them on boards. Business owners can post images of their products, staff, inspirations or photo shoots that link back to your business website. On your website, you can place "Pin It” buttons next to the product images to encourage Pinterest users to share them with their followers.

Instagram
Instagram allows users to post filtered photos and easily share them on Facebook and Twitter. Your business-related posts on social media sites will receive more attention if you accompany them with a photo.

Foursquare
A location-based social networking site, Foursquare is a free app you can download on your smartphone. Customers can "check in” to your business when they arrive and access promotions. Foursquare can be a handy customer loyalty tool.

Reddit
A social media site where users share content they enjoyed, Reddit allows users to post text or links. Members can then vote the posts "up” or "down”, which ranks the content and determines how prominently posts are displayed on Reddit. Be careful about blatantly promoting your product, however; if you don't offer a great story, they may vote it down.

Tumblr
A micro-blogging platform and social networking website, Tumblr users can share photos, videos, audio and text. Tumblr doesn't have as many users as Facebook or YouTube, but its versatility makes it a good place for business blogging.