Facebook and Twitter are the top two social networks that any small business must use. Google Plus is also becoming a significant social media force, and depending on your industry, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube and Foursquare can also be vitally important. There are dozens more social media sites that you could also be a part of!
You do not need to be on all of them, but you definitely should be on more than one. That means finding or creating content, deciding whether it should go on all the sites, or which ones it should go on and how often, and scheduling and publishing that content. It can be a lot of work. Social media management tools can help tame the social media beast – but they cannot do it alone. Organization and preparation are still important.
Choose the Right Social Media Management Tools
There are several social media management tools to choose from. However, they vary greatly, based on the sites they manage, cost, number of social profiles they manage, mobile apps and number of team members who can access them. However, social management tools are very cost efficient, with different price points to fit all sizes of business. You will easily recover any investment made with freed-up man hours and more effective use of social media.
At one time Tweetdeck would manage Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare and others, but after Twitter bought it, they dropped support for all the other social media networks. It streamlines tweet scheduling and is a great tool if Twitter is your most important platform, but if you want to manage more than Twitter, Tweetdeck leaves you in the cold. In addition to scheduling tweets, Tweetdeck can monitor Twitter mentions of your business or important keywords.
HootSuite supports all the major social networks including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Foursquare and more. A true management system, it allows teams and collaboration, scheduled posts and publishing information from feeds to your networks. It even monitors any mentions of your business on social networks, so you can stay on top of lead generation and respond appropriately to those interested in your business. The free version can generate reports to tell you how your social presence is faring. The pro and enterprise versions add multiple team members and integration with Google Analytics and Facebook Insights.
Seesmic also supports Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites and used to be a HootSuite competitor until HootSuite purchased Seesmic in 2012. Seesmic users, particularly business users, are now being transitioned to HootSuite.
Buffer is another social media management tool that supports multiple networks including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. You can use it to schedule posts on your pages and profiles, as well as in LinkedIn groups. It offers both a free plan and a paid plan that is $10 per month.
Sprout is a commercial social media management software with three levels: Standard at $39 per user/month, Deluxe at $59 per user/month, and Premium at $99 per user per month. It offers a 30-day full feature free trial. The base package, included in all plans, includes tools to aid engagement, publishing, analyzing, monitoring, collaborating, and support and has a module for mobile platforms. It supports Facebook, Twitter and Google+.
Social Media Management and Workflow
Whether you manually make every post, use a management app, or a combination of the two, social media has a workflow. Your goals for social media use, the frequency of posting, which social media sites you use, what content is posted and who takes care of social media is all a part of the social media workflow. Choosing to use a social media management tool will maximize the exposure you get with social media and save you time. If you typically outsource social media management or have an employee take care of it, such tools will save you man hours.
Social media is here to stay, and every day it is more important to have a social media presence. The use of a social media management tool will not only save you time by scheduling your posts, it can provide you with valuable tracking information and analytics that can help you see what your followers are most interested in. The increased frequency of your social media activity will also increase lead generation and help you grow your business.
With careful planning and the right social media management tools, it is possible to have a strong social media presence that greatly benefits your business.
Alex is an avid blogger and IT Director for Servicont - a HughesNet provider.