I was sitting here preparing to talk on a panel to a group of small business owners, and as I reviewed the questions we were given I noticed that a lot of my initial responses were “Depends”. The more I thought about it that seems to be my response to a lot of marketing-related questions I get from people. They ask me if they should use this tool or that tool. Sometimes they ask what they should be posting. Almost always my initial response is Depends. I’m not trying to stall or be difficult, just honest in the fact that there is no magic formula that works for every business out there.

Believe me, if I knew a secret formula that could be successfully applied to every business, I would have probably retired by now. Seriously though, every business is unique and so should their approach to marketing and social media. Yes, there are best practices that everyone should follow, but each business needs to evaluate some things internally before truly deciding what to tackle.

Target Audience

Your target audience has a lot to do with determining what tools you will use and the strategy on how to best use them. You need to understand your target audience’s needs, wants, and where they spend their time online and off. Finding out where they spend their time allows you to understand where you should spend your time connecting with them. Go where the fish are, don’t try to lure them to a different location. Connect where they are comfortable and most likely to be open to your message.

Your Resources

In addition to understanding your audience, you have to understand your resources with regards to time, money and talent. If you have limited time, spend it on the one tool that will provide the biggest impact based on your goals. If you have limited money, you will want to use tools that are less expensive or free. As for talent, if you aren’t comfortable in front of a video camera, don’t choose a tool that requires video. Do what makes the most of your resources and your comfort level with technology.

Your Goals

When looking at the tools you will use, you also need to consider your marketing and business goals. What do you want to get out of your marketing efforts? Brand awareness? Conversions? Provide better customer service? Different tools lend themselves to helping you achieve different goals. Your goals may be very different from your competition, so your tools and strategy will be different too.

So the next time you ask me a question and I respond with “Depends”, please don’t be offended. It is simply my way to begin that conversation that allows you to make the best and correct decision for your business.