Social media has become a big part of online marketing, brand awareness and customer relations, particularly since the launch of Facebook and Twitter. But if you’re not careful, it can take up a lot of your time, particularly now that there are some many channels available; Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube etc. Firstly though, only choose those platforms which are relevant for your business, somewhere where your target audience are going to be socialising. Be selective.
When you are using multiple social media channels and trying to make them meaningful, there are lots of tools that can help. You can schedule content, evaluate the most effective times to post, simultaneously post to multiple channels and lots of other clever things. Here we summarise some of the best social media management tools so you can choose the ones that are best for you.
Hootsuite is the most popular social media management channel and allows you to post on and track multiple channels, as well as monitoring other people’s or special interest streams. Hootsuite also has an in-built analytics tool and helps you to effectively monitor campaign results. There are free, pro and enterprise options that you can sign up for, some free and some paid-for.
Buffer is a popular tool for scheduling content, and sharing it across multiple social media channels including Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+. It ensures that you have consistent updates across your channels even when you might not be able to reach them. You also get analytics about the engagement with your content and reach. Buffer is free to start with, but then charges a small fee per month.
Rather than being a tool to help publish content, Crowdbooster is a data-gathering tool. It’s a great tool to use to start shaping your social media strategy as you’ll be able to see what works and what doesn’t. Do videos get better engagement than photos, what time of day are my followers interacting? These are questions that Crowdbooster can help you answer. It’s not a free tool, but prices are relatively low, and if it can help evaluate the value of your social media strategy then it’s worth it.
Tweepi is a tool purely for Twitter. It allows you to flush unfollowers, cleanup inactives, reciprocate by following, and follow new interesting tweeps. It helps to keep your Twitter feed fresh and uncluttered. There are two paid-for Tweepi options.
Spreadfast is another data-gathering tool. It helps you to see how many people you’ve reached and whether your target audience is engaging with you. The data is clearly formatted in graphs, and you can see in the calendar when you’re optimal posting times are.
Sprout social is another management tool for analysing and posting across multiple accounts. By using a single stream inbox, it helps you to never miss a message or notification and you can schedule your content across multiple platforms with one click. Sprout social uses visual analytics to help you quickly identify if your content is working. They offer a free trial and then a range of paid-for packages.
Everypost is one of the completely free tools. You can write one message, share a photo or video and add your hashtags, and then automatically send to Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Facebook, LinkedIn and Tumblr. It also automatically shortens text for Twitter to 140 characters, although you may have to make some corrections.
Bitly simply shortens your URLs so that they are neat and tidy for your social media accounts, and also helps to keep tweets to their 140 character limit. However, bitly also use real-time analytics and can track clicks so you can see the power of your posts on website traffic.
If This Then That is a really powerful automation tool that can be a huge time saver. You can link up a number of social channels and set ‘rules’ for content sharing. For example, it can send out a tweet every time you publish a new blog post or save a photo to Dropbox every time you share an image on Instagram. You can also link it to other tools such as Hootsuite so that you can make it as effective as possible.
Tweetdeck is another Twitter-focussed tool that helps you to monitor and manage your Twitter accounts. You can schedule tweets, receive notifications, filter out useful content and track searches. You can also add it in to your Chrome browser.
SocialBro is yet another Twitter tool. It looks like Twitter is the popular one! It helps businesses to better target and engage with their audience on Twitter. You can identify key influencers, work out what time to tweet, analyse competitors and browse your community. By analysing the timelines of your followers, SocialBro works out the optimal time to tweet based on when they’re most active.
There are a number of crossovers in the tools that we’ve listed. First work out what you want from your social media plan, have a browse through the tools we’ve listed above and see which fit your plans best. There are more than those that we’ve listed so let us know if you think we’ve missed out some of the best!
And don’t forget to manage your own time as well as your social media posts. Set aside specific time for working on your social media content, content plan, re-tweeting/sharing/pinning and engaging with your followers/fans as well as scheduling content.