The internet can feel like a giant wormhole: hopping from link to link until you find yourself awake at 3 am reading about jellyfish migration. We’ve all been there, don’t feel bad. When you’re a small business owner, spending time building your online social media could feel like jumping into that wormhole–just where do you draw the line?

Small business owners need to make the connection that A.) the web is full of marketing possibilities and B.) you’ve got to find the best platforms out there to help you take advantage of those possibilities. Your toolbelt likely already includes a few different social media platforms. However, as a small business owner, you also understand the importance of not spreading yourself too thin. How much social media is too much, and how do you prioritize your focus?

Let’s cover the non-negotiables:

  • Website – This is your number one. You need a solid landing place for search engines to crawl (read) that has all of your (accurate) information, along with links to your other social media accounts and platforms.
  • Facebook – it’s a given. Every business should be on Facebook; it’s often the first place people go to for information. Facebook is a valuable tool for sharing information, building a following, and interacting with customers.
  • Google – get your information on Google and make sure it’s accurate. Google is the largest and most powerful search engine on the planet. Above all, you want to be in control of the basic information someone sees when they search your business. Check your Google reviews and respond in a timely fashion. Still not sure about the difference between Google+Local and Google Places For Business? See this post for a quick refresher.

Everything else is up for debate. We’ve covered several platforms and their various pros and cons in past posts, it might be helpful to review them as you get your social media in order. It’s up to you to determine what your time and resources allow, and how much your business stands to benefit.

Most small businesses can’t cover every possible social media platform. It’s more important that you identify who your customers are, and which social media platform they use. Ask them! Do they prefer you use Facebook, do they like Instagram, which platform are they most likely to check for sales or discounts? Test your promotions on two different platforms: did more people respond to a Facebook update or to an Instagram image? Knowing which platform gives you a return on your time spent helps you draw the line around what’s too much social media for your resources and what’s just right.

Start with the platforms you’ve decided are actively worth your time. Choosing between Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Periscope, and any other platform that’s popped up in the last 10 minutes, is a challenge, but pick which one or two are your focus. It is far more beneficial to master one or two platforms, use them regularly, and to do them really well, than it is to have accounts on several platforms with less quality and subsequently less meaningful interaction with customers.

Some businesses have found great success focusing on a single platform like Instagram and building a following there. It’s easy to run promotions, sales, increase your exposure when you’re focused on one platform. You can use Instagram as your primary social media focus, and then share that content to Facebook, Twitter, or other platforms. Other businesses have found Twitter to be a valuable resource for driving traffic, networking, and interacting with followers. Again, trial and error plays a great role in discovering whether or not any of these platforms are worth your time and effort. If customers start engaging with you on a platform, move more resources to where you are seeing those returns. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, concentrate on the platform that makes the most sense to you; if you’re doing a great job on a single platform, often customers will gravitate to connecting with you on that platform.

Social media trends come and go. It doesn’t hurt to give each platform a thorough exploration, to be familiar with your options.  Keep up with technology, keep testing platforms, and spend your resources where you’re seeing returns.