Creating a social media strategy can be a vital move for small businesses. Using digital channels can help you reach your target audience, build awareness of your brand and compete with larger companies — plus, you can do it all on a shoestring budget.

But in order to take full advantage of this resource, you’ll have to know which channels and strategies will work best. Here’s how to put together a winning social media campaign for your business.

Why Social Media Is Important

Social media is now a must-have tool for small businesses. A study by LinkedIn found that more than 8 in 10 small and midsized firms were using social, with that number set to hit 90 percent when factoring in companies that planned to adopt this tool in the future.

That means even your similarly sized competitors are almost certainly incorporating social media into their marketing strategies. To compete, you’ll need to get on the same playing field.

Finding Your Social Guru

Managing social media is just like any other task: Unless you delegate it to a specific employee, everyone will just assume someone else is going to do it.

Find someone on your team who has a passion and skill set for digital media, or search for an experienced social media professional externally. Build incentives for reaching specific goals, such as a bonus for sales closed through social-generated leads.

Be Deliberate

As you decide which channels to focus on, pinpoint your target audience. Define their education, career, hobbies, age, gender, income and location. This information will help you pick the right social networks and target any ads you buy later on.

Here’s a quick look at some of the most popular channels, the kinds of users they attract and how businesses can use them.

  • LinkedIn is the secret weapon for companies with a business-to-business focus. You can network with other professionals, join discussions within your niche and position yourself as a thought leader in your field.
  • Facebook is ideal if you’re a business-to-consumer brand and plan on posting updates a few times a week. A study by the Pew Research Center found that Mark Zuckerberg’s platform remains the most-used social network: 71 percent of all adult Internet users check the site, making it a great place to cast a relatively wide net.
  • Twitter will work well for businesses that post many times a day, because each post has a limited life-span. It’s a good source for sharing live and breaking news. According to Pew, Twitter’s top demographic is adults aged 18 to 29, followed by those between 30 and 49, so definitely consider this channel if your audience skews toward young adults and urban professionals.
  • Vine is a great choice if you’re focusing on short videos, and it integrates seamlessly with Twitter.
  • Periscope is ideal for live-streaming videos, but Facebook is getting in on that action now, too.
  • Instagram is unique because it’s completely photo-based and doesn’t allow links within its posts. That makes it good for business niches that lend themselves to visual storytelling — food, fashion or animal rescue, for example. Instagram’s biggest demographic is adults aged 18 to 29, Pew reports, with 53 percent of users in that age group active on the channel.
  • Pinterest works well for businesses that have visual products they want to link to, but bear in mind that this platform skews strongly toward women over men, according to Pew.
  • Snapchat features pictures and videos that are only available for a few seconds. It’s great for coupons, teasing new products and humanizing your business.

Once you choose your channels and get started, you’ll want to have a social media management tool, such as Hootsuite, Buffer or Crowdfire, so you can track and measure your progress as well as schedule future social media posts.

If you do that in addition to pinpointing a narrow target audience, articulating specific goals and designating an employee to oversee the initiative, your social media strategy will be poised for success.

Stephanie Dwilson has extensive experience providing expertise on topics including health, law and marketing. She’s a science journalist published by Fox News, a marketing expert and an attorney with expertise in personal injury law. She’s also a small business expert featured by Businessweek and Millionaire Blueprints magazine and has worked as a marketing consultant for ministries and as a PR lead for one of the largest churches in America.