One of the most frequent questions I get asked by business owners is: “Do I need to be on social media and if so, which platforms?” So when a friend rang last week and asked for Twitter advice for his new venture, I was ready with my usual list of who, what, why, when and where questions starting with “What are your business objectives?” and “Who is your target audience?”

There’s absolutely no point in being on a social platform just because it’s popular, especially if your audience isn’t there. And even if they are there, how can you be sure that they’ll actually see your stuff?

My friend thought he could use Twitter to help his clients navigate the complex waters of his specialist area; to showcase his expertise by cutting through the noise and to give the best advice. Don’t we all, I said, but the point is that they would be highly unlikely to see anything unless he had a very clear content strategy and plan.

It quickly became obvious that Twitter wasn’t the best place for his nascent business and that, for now, a good “old-fashioned” email newsletter might be the best option to ensure that his clients actually signed up for, and received, his advice.

Better still, given that his target demographic was the notoriously hard to reach ‘millennials’, I suggested he should try WhatsApp, “one of the most potent content delivery systems” out there, according to the BBC’s Apps Editor, Trushar Barot. That way his young clients could sign up for notifications direct to their mobile.

Fish where the fish are … and sometimes that might mean looking for a less obvious, quieter, niche in the river of noise. So it set me thinking, if you’re looking to showcase your expertise, where should you be writing or putting your content that might be a little less noisy.

Slideshare is one such option. Now owned by LinkedIn, it claims to be the world’s largest community for sharing presentations and professional content with over 60 million unique visitors a month.

It’s a great place to showcase your expertise to a global audience, to find interesting content and to be found. You can share your PowerPoint presentations, documents, white papers, videos and infographics and what’s more it’s free and easy to upload. So rather than spending valuable time creating new content you can repurpose your existing material to reach a wider audience.

Create a profile, follow people and for each of your presentations make sure you’ve got an arresting cover shot and that you input all the right keywords and links to ensure you get found. Also, since it was taken over by LinkedIn in 2012 it now integrates with your business network and displays your Slideshare content on your profile.

It’s also searchable and really useful for content discovery so if you’re in need of inspiration or advice the chances are you can find it here. And if you do use it yourself, you can easily measure shares, likes and downloads to see if what you’re creating is working for you and your business.

Since February last year LinkedIn Pulse has been open to all members, so if you want to start writing and sharing your thoughts with your network, it’s only a click away. Simply click ‘Publish a Post’ on your home page and you’re off. But before you start, make absolutely sure that what you post will be interesting and useful to others.

If you’re looking for a wider audience, not necessarily a business-related one, then Medium offers a great opportunity for anyone with an interesting story to tell. Anyone can publish almost anything but curators ensure that true quality is rewarded. With a WYSIWYG interface it’s easy to get started and easy to spend hours reading insightful pieces like A Teenager’s View on Social Media. Another great joy of Medium is that each piece tells you exactly how long it’ll take to read so you can plan your time effectively. If you fancy dipping your toe into it, here’s a great guide on getting started.

As a journalist I’ve found all these platforms incredibly useful to find interesting information and contacts and as a business owner myself it’s definitely one stream I shall personally be fishing more frequently.

Do you use Slideshare, WhatsApp or Medium for your business? Thinking about starting based on what you’ve read here? We’d love to know how you get on…