Social media is taking the business sector by storm. Businesses use them to generate leads, attract and engage customers, recruit new employees, and perform customer service. In fact, according to research presented by Bluewolf, the number of customers who attempt to engage customer service through social will grow by 53% in 2013. Related: 6 Reasons Amazon is an Ecommerce Genius The various social networks -- Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and beyond -- may seem similar on the surface, since they're all used to connect individuals and share content. However, the uses, best practices, and even demographics of each network varies greatly. If your business isn't concentrating its social media efforts on the right networks, you could be missing out on a lot of marketing and sales opportunities. Know the Numbers In order to effectively engage and sell to customers on social networks, you need to understand the differences between each platform and its users. The following figures come from a 2012 Pew report, Kantar Media, and a Royal Pingdom survey. Age Facebook: 35% of users are under 35, 50% are 35-54. The average age is 40.5 (an increase of 2 years over 2010 figures). Twitter: 45% are under 35, 35% are 35-54. The average age is 37.3 (a decrease of 2 years under 2010 figures). Linkedin: 21% are under 35, 62% are 35-54; average age is 40.1. Half of all social media users are between the ages of 25 and 44. Gender Facebook: 40% male vs. 60% female. Twitter: 40% male vs. 60% female. Linkedin: 45% male vs. 55% female. Pinterest has the largest gender discrepancy of all social media, with 21% male and 79% female. Income Facebook: 34% make under 30k; 26% make 30k-60k; 24% make 60k-100k; 16% make 100k+. Twitter: 34% make under 30k; 25% make 30k-60k; 24% make 60k-100k; 17% make 100k+. Linkedin: 21% make under 30k; 24% make 30k-60k; 28% make 60k-100k; 27% make 100k+ Related: Marketing Monday: How You Can Be Successful with Customer Service on Twitter Taking Action on Social Depending on the attributes of your business's average customer, you may find that concentrating on a specific social media platform will bring you the most reward. However, more than likely, you will need to engage customers on several platforms in order to have the greatest reach. This will require a more nuanced investigation into your customer base. How many of your customers are under the age of 34? How do their shopping habits compare to those of your customers aged 35-54? You may find that, for best results, you need to advertise different products on each network in order to pique the interest of different customer segments. In addition to social networks, you should also investigate industry-based forums and small niche communities in your efforts to expand your business's online influence. For example: an online community dedicated to your industry may not generate many sales leads; however, your job posting could result in several high-quality candidates that you wouldn't have been able to source anywhere else. When considering how to extend your sales into social media and online networks, you need to understand that each network is different: each one attracts a different customer. Customizing your networking efforts to each platform will produce higher-quality engagement levels amongst customers leading to more sales.