Odds are, we don’t have to sell you on the importance of social media for your business in 2017. Rather than a novelty, social media has become an omnipresent part of our digital landscape.
When you consider that 68% of U.S. adults are on Facebook, and that more than half of all adults online use more than one social media platform, it becomes clear: Social media is the water that we swim in when we go online today. It’s where we get our news, connect with friends, and even do our shopping (did you know that Pinterest actually drives 25% of all retail website referral traffic?).
Your brand has to be on social media. Perhaps you already are. But that beggars a new question: How do you get the most out of your social media usage? More to the point, many business owners have asked us how they can incorporate social media marketing into their day-to-day without sacrificing their own productivity. Is there a way to get the most out of your social networks, without having to devote hours every single day to monitoring your analytics, responding to comments, or finding and creating fresh content to share?
Looking to make the most of your time online? Trying to accomplish some extremely specific social media goals? Here are some tools to consider for streamlining and managing your social media efforts:
Organic Posting Vs. Tool
First and foremost, it’s important to realize that there are countless tools available to help business owners and digital marketing agencies alike create and share social media content; you’d be surprised how many people spend all of their time on the “front end” of their social media accounts, not even realizing that there are tools available to streamline the process.
But these tools can make all the difference in the world when it comes to maintaining an efficient social media strategy. Why? Well, all of the parts that it takes to truly gain value from social media adds up. We’re talking about posting multiple times a day, across several different channels. Re-sharing content to ensure that it’s seen by a maximum number of audience members. Responding to comments and reviews. Running paid ad campaigns. Regularly refreshing your visual content. Tracking your analytics, including clickthrough and engagement.
All of these little tasks add up to a big job, one that can seem overwhelming without a digital helper. That’s where these third party tools come in. There are numerous platforms available that, at their core, allow you to build out and automate your social media calendar, saving you time and stress and allowing you to easily collaborate with other members of your team and easily make edits to your posts, if necessary; what’s more, many of these tools also offer pretty sophisticated analytics tools, allowing you to monitor the success of your posts, and your campaign as a whole, in real time.
And before we dive into a few of our favorite social media management platforms, let’s dispel one common misconception that may be on your mind: By all available metrics, using a third party tool will not affect the reach of your social media posts. Case studies from a few different sources have anecdotally suggested that direct posting has no significant advantage over third party posting, as was the case a few years ago. Today, you won’t be penalized by any of the major social networks for going through a scheduler or management platform.
Our Favorite Tools
So, which social media management platform offers the most bang for your buck? The long and short of it is that it depends on any number of unique factors. For basic social media management, here are a few tools that we’d recommend to just about anyone:
Buffer is a highly effective social management tool, offering plenty of functionality for beginners and newcomers alike. Just set up the schedules for your various social media accounts, create posts, and watch as they automatically slot into your queue, waiting to be shared. It’s easy to use Buffer to collaborate among team members, and its analytics tools are remarkably deep, offering insight into audience trends, engagement, and other key metrics to track. At one time, Buffer was our tool of choice here at Geek Chicago, though many have complained that it has gotten expensive.
New to us here at Geek, SocialPilot has quickly found a place in the pantheon of great social media management platforms, thanks to its intuitive interface and some of its cooler features, including the ability to bulk schedule posts from a .CSV and to pick and choose content from feeds that you curate. The most winning aspect to SocialPilot, however, is the price point; individuals can get a ton of functionality from SocialPilot’s free features, and its most expensive plans still ring in well below those of its legacy competitors.
In some ways, Hootsuite is the social media management platform to beat; it certainly has the name recognition, and is a top choice for many who work in media. In addition to sophisticated scheduling tools, Hootsuite also offers a variety of useful features, including the ability to track mentions and messages, as well as highly sophisticated analytics features, including a feature allowing you to gauge your social ROI based on a variety of social insights.
Targeted Tools, for More Specific Goals
Of course, there are plenty of social media goals that you may wish to accomplish, and some could fall outside the purview of these apps. Don’t worry! There are a variety of social media services designed to assist in other aspects of your marketing.
For social media monitoring, for instance, there is SproutSocial, an advanced tool that allows you to actively monitor for brand mentions, find engagement opportunities, and quickly resolve customer issues.
If your primary goal on social media is reputation management, you may want to consider taking a step back and looking at the big picture with BirdEye, whose services help businesses monitor customer feedback, generate and manage reviews, and listen to important social conversations across a variety of platforms, all in one place.
You Don’t Have to Go It Alone
Do these tools seem a little intimidating? We understand! As you may have gathered, a lot of these tools are designed for digital marketers; while they can be put to use without a full time social media marketing staff, the reality is that the learning curve – and the price – can still be steep.
Our recommendation, as we’ve shared before, is to go with a digital marketing agency, one whose sole purpose is to take on content creation and social marketing duties, leaving you to focus on what you do best – providing quality results for your customers. An agency can put an entire suite of tools to work for your brand, saving you time and money in the long run, all while giving you the level of control or access that works for your schedule – whether that means taking a totally “hands off” approach, or collaborating closely with your team.
That’s where Geek comes in! Have any questions about these social marketing tools, or any other? Ready to step up your content creation strategy this year? Looking to use social media to improve your online reputation? Whatever your needs, we’d love to help set you on the right track. Drop us a line today to get the conversation started.