The success of the image-sharing networks, Pinterest and Instagram, shows the significant marketing potential of social media. Since their launch in 2010, the two platforms have established themselves as big players in both the British market and worldwide. However, business owners considering these platforms for marketing campaigns should be aware of their differences in order to assess whether...
Social media tools
It should come as no surprise that the social media giants Twitter and Facebook make up just a small part of a company’s social media presence. Other sites including Google+, YouTube, Vimeo, and LinkedIn contribute to an ever-growing plethora of platforms that provides a whole host of marketing opportunities for growing businesses. For a strong online presence using several or all of these platforms, careful management is the name of the game. Installing social media tools is therefore a great way to save time and resources when monitoring your web presence.
Why you need social media tools
Social media marketing tools are primarily a means of lightening your workload and saving time. These tools create partly automatic processes that enable businesses to multitask and cut down time spent on analysing marketing campaigns, content management, and analysis of customers’ online behaviour. Social media tools benefit the following areas:
Overview and planning
Trying to keep track of multiple accounts on several platforms can be a confusing business. Without precise planning, social media management can quickly descend into chaos. Erratic updates won’t go unnoticed by your followers or potential customers. Social media tools therefore enable users to get an overview of their marketing activity; a central dashboard manages the planning of content as well as publishing queued updates and tracking.
When several colleagues have access to the company’s social media accounts, it is imperative to coordinate efforts efficiently. Installing social media marketing tools provides transparent teamwork and better workflow. Not only is it then possible for staff to organise a schedule for their social media content, it's also easier to follow who posted what, and when.
When customers have problems or questions, they often contact the company via its social network platforms. Whether they have enquiries, criticism, or positive feedback, the customers expect a quick reaction, rather than having to wait several days for an answer. Social media can therefore be an important aspect of customer relationship management (CRM). With social media management tools, businesses can keep track of the many enquiries that are distributed over different networks.
Tracking and analysis
Analysing its social media channels allows a business to find out when and in what context it is mentioned. This isn’t just about tracking likes and shares, but also the full spectrum of “social press reviews”. A social media monitoring tool enables the business to react as quickly as possible to these reviews. Many tools not only enable the business to analyse their own fan base, but also offer a function that analyses competing businesses and finds influencers.
Stay up-to-date while on the move
Yet another practical aspect of many tools: if all the networks are accommodated on one dashboard, they can be accessed on the go. Many tools provide mobile versions or their own apps, which enable the user to check the status of their social media profiles from their personal devices.
Five tools to make social media management easier
Content development, analysis, monitoring: these are just some PR aspects that can be made simpler by using social media tools. Make managing your web presence a breeze with these five tools:
Buffer collects, manages, and shares content on various platforms at different times, both online and in the mobile version for iOS and Android. It is possible to split the content between up to three online profiles, including Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, App.net, and Pinterest (the latter only in the paid version). The free version can be used for one account and store up to 10 saved content items for each platform. To add more accounts and stored content or connect to RSS feeds, Buffer offers plans starting from just 10 US dollars a month.
As well as the browser extension for common programs, there are also extensions available for online services such as Pocket, Instapaper, Feedly, or scoop.it. Extra features include the integrated automatic URL shortener and the practical graphic tool, Pablo. Another package, offers the user the option to analyse their own social media activity with the option, “social analytics”.
Due to its ability to follow several streams at once, Hootsuite was initially popular among Twitter users, although the tool also supports Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Foursquare, WordPress, and Mixi. Users of the free version can simultaneously manage up to three accounts, and connect five social media networks to the tool, whereas the social media management tool’s paid packages can accommodate up to 50 accounts. Hootsuite is a browser-based application and offers extensions for Chrome and Firefox as well as a mobile version for Android and iOS.
The main functions - automatically publishing updates at an appointed time - are comparable to those of Buffer. However, Hootsuite also offers a dashboard with a huge range of functions that can be made available to up to ten colleagues. The tool also provides more scope in the analysis of users’ behaviour and reactions, meaning users can record the number of reactions to a single post, for example, and use that information to find out the optimal time period for publishing updates.
The set of tools from Brandwatch focuses on the themes of social listening and social intelligence. Rather than content development, this social media monitoring tool places the emphasis on data analysis. Using data from the biggest social media channels, Facebook and Twitter, this analytics tool enables users to take advantage of various functions. These include: observing campaigns in real time, regularly conducting analyses of the competition, and getting an overview of fans, followers, and influencers. Every user can access this information from a customised dashboard. New customers have the added benefit of being able to trial a free test version for 7 days, and have the choice of two different packages thereafter.
Another option is Audiense, a completely free tool for managing a Twitter account. Like Hootsuite and Buffer, the tool is ideally suited to scheduling content updates, but watch out! Based on the gathered parameters, the app only ascertains the best times for sharing content. Actually sharing the content, however, is carried out via a connection to Hootsuite. Moreover, the tool can only be used for Twitter accounts. It records a site’s followers and unfollowers and identifies the “most important” followers, i.e. the most influential Twitter users in your network. With this data, it creates an analysis of a business’s demographic and gives the user an overview of the most important hashtags for content development. .
The final tool to make our list is the free Likealyzer application, which provides a basic analysis of Facebook profiles. This tool is great for its fuss-free approach; users only need to enter the URL into a search field in order to see the effectiveness of their content strategy and discover areas for improvement. When accessing a profile, the social media tool records, among other things, the type and length of posts, time of publishing, and likes and engagement rate. It also identifies any occurring problems and offers tips to improve outreach.
|Main function||Content development||Content development, analysis||Analysis, monitoring||Target group analysis||Sucess monitoring|
|Supported platforms||Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, App.net, Pinterest||Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Foursquare, WordPress, Mixi||Twitter, Facebook|
|Price||Monthly fee||Monthly fee||Monthly fee||Free||Free|
|Analytics||Yes - monthly fee||x||x||x||x|
|Free version||x||x||7 day free trial||x||x|
|Browser extensions||x||x||Browser- based||Browser- based||Browser- based|
|Mobile version||iOS, Android||iOS, Android||-||-||-|
The perfect tool for every problem
Needless to say, these social media tools represent just a small selection of what is currently available on the market, from all-round solutions that can host several networks to more specific tools with a specialised range of functions. The most crucial aspect of any tool is a precise analysis of the respective social media profiles and the relevance of individual channels for commercial success.
An overview of the different kinds of social media tools:
- social media management tools
- social media monitoring tools
- platform-specific tools
- fans and followers analysis tools
- tools for trend and influencer searches
- image and graphic tools