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One of the biggest problems faced when businesses try to use social media as a marketing tool is that there are simply too many social media sites. A day doesn’t go by when I’m not asked about this new site or that old site and whether or not they can be used is marketing. Most can. However, most simply do not have the reach to make them worthwhile. For the majority of businesses, if they stay focused on four current social sites, they’ll have the vast majority of their marketing covered.

Some big sites were excluded. It’s not that Tumblr doesn’t have its place or that Foursquare is useless. It’s that the time and energy necessary to make them stronger is not worth the return on investment. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest are the big dogs right now. They don’t take a ton of time to master and the results are strong compared to the effort put into them.

  • Facebook – This is the only no-brainer out there. If you only use one social media site for your marketing, this is it. From both a social interaction perspective as well as a public relations perspective, Facebook can cover as much as 70% of your social media marketing efforts.
  • Twitter – This is often the hardest for businesses to understand. They look at it, give it a try, and believe that the results aren’t worth the effort. The problem with that argument is that Twitter is still extremely popular and more importantly the time necessary to have a rock-solid Twitter presence is minutes a day at most. Don’t abandon the low-hanging fruit just because the results aren’t apparent. If you use it right, the results will come.
  • Google+ – Even if you don’t believe that Google+ will emerge as a true social media force (it will, but I won’t argue that here), the search engine marketing benefits of building up and maintaining a strong presence on the platform cannot be argued. Few would say they couldn’t use better search results or more traffic from Google. Their social network is one of the ways to improve those results.
  • Pinterest – Just like Twitter, Pinterest falls into the category of low-investment, higher-returns. One of the things that differentiates Pinterest from other social sites is that they’ve embraced business usage more readily than other platforms. Posting and maintaining a quality Pinterest presence can be literally less than a minute a day and many of those who use the platform swear by it.

There’s a common theme here. Effort versus reward. If you measure your returns relative to the amount of effort put into the maintenance, you’ll find that these are the sites that generate the highest level. Used properly, just about any business can benefit from a strong presence on these four social media sites.

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