It can be overwhelming, trying to figure out which social networks should be added to a small business’ online presence. Facebook, Twitter – sure, why not? Foursquare, Instagram, Pinterest – are they necessary? And where does LinkedIn fit in?

People now are accessing the Internet on their phones or tablets as frequently as on their PCs. How does that affect your small business? Should you use social media? Why? Which ones?

In my business I try to take a logical approach, focusing on tools that help me do two things: 1) Improve communication with clients  2) Grow by reaching prospective clients.

The tablet market is huge, thanks to the iPad, Kindle, the new hybrid tablet/computer offerings, and a dozen others. Tablet adoption has outpaced all previous technology shifts. Just look at all the digital content – websites, apps,  social media, publications and on and on- that’s available with the simple swipe of a finger.

While tablets represent a large percentage of devices used to stay connected online, nothing beats the market share of mobile phones. Smartphones are ubiquitous in today’s society. Look around you; at work, the mall, restaurants (yeah, I know – how annoying!) – they are everywhere.  And their use stretches way beyond games and apps; consumers are now searching the web from their phones. In a recent survey, 55% of consumers report using their Smartphone to research and purchase a local service or product.

This means that smart businesses are putting more and more of their marketing budget into online sectors. While Ecommerce was leading the way until fairly recently, more traditional businesses are utilizing online resources as effective marketing tools.

So it pays to analyze your clients and what they do online – if none of them use Facebook, but many use Pinterest, your path is fairly clear. But how can you gather this information? Well, online surveys will work up to a point – but there are other tools out there which will aid you in determining where to spend your social efforts. Here are a couple to get you started:

I have not used all of these, although they are well up on my “to do” list. Have you used any of these or other analytics tools? I’m always interested to hear about my visitors’ experiences – please do use the comments to let me know!