Brands often jump to the conclusion that they need a social presence on every platform out there. But when it comes time to strategize, hardly any brands actually stop to ask: which platforms are right for me?

Limiting your brand’s social presence to only the relevant platforms prevents overcommitting to sites that just aren’t worth the investment it takes to run them (more on that below).

The fact is, just because social media is free to use (not counting the ads), it isn’t free to run. A great social presence requires a considerable investment—one many brands aren’t ready for.

So if you’re considering a new social strategy for your brand, ask yourself these questions first.

What do I have to offer?
The 80/20 rule of social media (inform and entertain 80% of the time, self-promote 20% of the time) exists for a reason: it draws people in and keeps them there. What’s your 80%? What can you offer the world that ISN’T your product or service—but relates to it?

  • Have lots of gorgeous, aspirational graphics and images—and the ability to keep producing them? Consider Instagram.
  • Love interacting with your consumers and other brands, and want to get into real-time customer support? Twitter may be more your speed.
  • Do you have entertaining, informational content? Give Facebook a chance.
  • Are your stakeholders and brand leaders active in their field, in the business world, and in their community? Do they have a unique perspective? LinkedIn is a great place to share their insights, accomplishments, and food for thought.

Is my target demographic even on this platform?
Only 7% of US adults over age 65 use Twitter—but 72% of teenagers use Instagram.1 Who are you trying to reach, and where do they go when they’re online? Researching where your target demographic spends their time can help you decide what platform to pursue—and if you should pursue it at all.

Do I have the resources?
Some platforms need multiple posts per day if a brand wants to stay relevant; some just need one post per week. Whatever the frequency, social media requires a constant, dedicated effort—not just to create content, but to respond to various interactions and constantly be on the lookout for opportunities to collaborate and engage. It takes a village to maintain a great social media presence:

  • At least one community manager to handle posting content (both planned ahead and spur-of-the-moment) and responding to comments and questions in a timely manner. They’re also responsible for reaching out to other brands and influencers for opportunities to share and collaborate.
  • A copywriter to develop copy and ideas for posts.
  • A graphic designer to produce images and develop ideas for posts. This could also take the work of a photographer or videographer, since posts with images generate higher responses.
  • Signoff from leadership, who may want to check posts for adherence to the brand guidelines, brand positioning, or business strategy.

However you forge ahead, keep in mind that “free to use” doesn’t mean free to succeed. Successful brands on social media have invested time and talent into their platforms—and it’s worth considering if your brand is ready to do the same.