If you are looking for the best tool online to get your message out, the most important piece of information you can find out is your audience. There are big differences between Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn and YouTube, so depending on who you want to reach and what you want to say, the platform you choose will be critical.

LinkedIn Has an Elite Audience

Perhaps the audiences you want to reach are white-collar and high-income. Maybe you are a financial planner or a golf trainer or a business consultant, so LinkedIn is the site for you. LinkedIn’s demographic is more professional and has a higher income. Corporate decision makers have accounts there that, while not updated as frequently as a Twitter, are still important connections to make.

Facebook Reaches Huge Numbers

If you have a more consumer-related business, look at the big landscape of Facebook with its 400 million users. But dig down deeper to the U.S. audience and you will find that users ages 50-plus powered growth in 2009 at more than a 900 percent clip. Women in this age group are flocking to Facebook and those are women who make financial decisions and power consumer life in their homes. Gaining them as fans will be a great get for any business.

Twitter Equals First Adopters

On a Twitter, meanwhile is the loud and influential middle. Demographically split between men and women with an age profile that skews younger than Facebook, Twitter’s 105 million users are people of influence in their community. These are the early adopters and social media evangelists in your community. If your business is lucky enough to be in an industry in your town that doesn’t already have a “Twitter”-endorsed spot, it could be you. Look around and see who is the Twitter power user in dry cleaning, Mexican restaurants or day care centers (or what every business you are in) – if they don’t exist, that’s your opportunity!

If you have time, research the Web. See what sites are most popular in your community and check out which demographic profiles fit you best. Empowered with that information, you can make the next step into social media a strategic one.