Does Your Business Care About Social Media Management?
According to Facebook’s latest stats, there are over 1.87 billion are subscribers. That is an enormous audience who is easy to reach when the right tools have been put into place. Facebook recently released a statement saying they had 1.23 Billion active daily users more than a 75% increase from the 699 million daily active users on average in June 2013. If I haven’t made my case and point yet, there were an additional 1.74 billion monthly active users who were on Facebook mobile products as of this month. These are users on only one of the many social media platforms on the market. If your company needs social amplification then there is nowhere better to start than with social media management tools.
Social media marketing can be a useful strategy to boost your company’s performance especially if you are a small business owner. However, it’s challenging to sort through all the add-ons and applications, at my last count there were over 550,000 for Facebook alone.
So I made it easy for you and found 4 social media management tools that are useful, easy to use, and some of which are FREE.
Like all social platforms, the number one no-go on Facebook is “broadcasting” your messages instead of providing followers with relevant content and engaging on a continual basis. Don’t be the one holding a bullhorn in the room; be insightful, answer questions, and promote content that aligns with your organization. There is a simple 80-20 rule we use at Matrix, 80% of all content is helping our fans learn, the other 20% is promotion based.
Facebook marketing is about sharing interesting information, videos, articles, and photos with people who have given you permission to interact with them. It’s also about facilitating a place where these people can engage with each other and share their common interests.
So, it is your job to interact, not just to broadcast, with your Fans that are looking for a reason to connect with you. If done properly you will be rewarded by them clicking ‘Like Us.’ Your job is to give them a compelling reason to stay.
With Facebook marketing, business owners and marketers of any size organization can do effective, word-of-mouth marketing at scale for the very first time. Just remember Facebook is all about authenticity, so if your company is not being authentic or engaging with customers in a way that feels genuine, the community will see right through it.
What does all of this mean? Facebook is the king of the social media world and it literally pays to understand how to leverage it to bolster your marketing efforts. The difficulty is understanding what tools make the most sense to squeeze every drop of usefulness you can get. Everything is always changing in the social world. At one time Facebook Insights could not stand on its own and it struggled to create cross-platform social media strategies. Now, Facebook Insights is incredibly powerful that has drawn users back into the platform instead of operating on third-party apps.
There are approximately 319 million Twitter users around the world with about one-third of those being daily users. Twitter is just as much for business users as Facebook. It’s a service that brands can directly interact with their current and potential customers. It’s a microblogging platform that can clearly define industry trends and customers needs.
Twitter is one of the top ten websites in the United States meaning that Twitter is ideal for brands trying to sell in the U.S. Try using Twitter Lists, as a way to target sales leads within a miniature community. Everyone who is part of specific lists has joined for the same reasons they would join a Facebook or LinkedIn group. They’ve found something worth relating to.
500 million monthly active users
User engagement is very high on Instagram. There’s an expectation that people will like photos and videos that fall within their niche. For businesses interested in likes, Instagram is one of the best platforms you could be using. In a report by Hootsuite, they found that per-user engagement was 58 times higher on Instagram than Facebook and 120 times higher than Twitter. Those are some insane numbers!
So, engagement is great, but it’s reasonable to question how successful marketing campaigns can be on Instagram; they’re very good in fact. So good that Instagram advertisers spent $595 million dollars in 2015. That’s not enough you say? It’s estimated the total ad spend for this year will be $2.81 billion with 70% of that coming from new businesses hopping on board the Instagram train.
Sometimes YouTube is defined as more a video sharing platform than it is a social media site. That assumption is very obviously wrong. YouTube is an incredibly important social channel and there are a billion users that back up this claim.
YouTube is an amazing tool to gain brand exposure when used effectively. Remember Dollar Shave Club? Their first ad was uploaded on March 6th, 2012 and it now has more than 24 million views. This is a free advertisement. People honestly don’t care if they’re watching a commercial as long as the commercial gives them something, in this case, another funny video to share with friends and family. The videos you create can then be shared across other social media for further promotion.
Just Get to the Tools Already!
Now, this may all seem like a lot of work that goes beyond what the average organization does to market themselves, and you’d be right. Having a consistent and constant stream of social media is hard. Most companies don’t have the time, effort and creativity it takes. Despite the investment, social media offers an advantage for businesses and helps strengthen marketing outreach efforts. As the saying goes sometimes you have to spend money to make money. The rest of this post will be dedicated to introducing you to the best social media management tools and why you should consider each one.
1. AgoraPulse: Social Analytics and Engagement
For users looking to find an excellent platform that allows you to talk to customers and jump head first into social involvement, AgoraPulse should be your go-to.
This application excels at Facebook and Twitter posting but has slight hiccups (so do the other three) with posting to Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn. There are workarounds for these shortcomings, so they are not major and shouldn’t be pressing concerns, but they do exist. AgoraPulse has the ability to reply directly to comments and messages directly from the dashboard. The advantage of using AgoraPulse is it acts as a highly efficient CRM interface, not just a social media management tool.
- Leads by example with high-quality support
- Has thorough and insightful social analytics reporting
- Helps to keep companies aware of mentions across multiple platforms
- Integrates with Google Analytics
- Easy to use mobile app
- Allows you to sort and filter your inbox to avoid spam and irrelevant content
- Let’s you know who are your most engaged followers
- Sorts messages so teams know if someone has already replied
2. Buffer: Social Sharing and Content Curation
Unlike AgoraPulse and Sprout Social, Buffer does have a free version. The ability to use this tool with little to no budget is really one of the greatest things about this application. No money down Buffer will allow you to connect one platform and for only $10 you’ll get
Seeming to be a trend on this list is there are a few bugs when posting on Instagram.
Reasons to go with Buffer
- They offer a free link shortener
- It has the highest rated mobile app
- Integrates with Google Analytics
- Utilize a convenient retweet scheduling tool (a paid only feature)
- Buffer browser extension makes scheduling content posts easy as possible
- Allows you to monitor 15 of your favorite sites making content sharing even easier
3. Sprout Social: Mid-Market
Sprout offers a user-friendly dashboard to easily manage your social media platforms. Users get a smart inbox consolidating messages across platforms which is one of, if not the most elegant solution in this list of applications. On par with AgoraPulse, Sprout offers comprehensive analytics that is well organized, user-friendly, and at the same time is visually appealing. Overall, Agora still slightly beats out Sprout in analytical capabilities.
Sprout does not currently offer any services in regards to Instagram so if you plan on using that platform the other applications on this list despite their lackluster performances are still a better option.
Sprout is expensive and that why they can afford to make their analytics, aesthetics, and user interface be on point. In addition to features you’d expect from a social media management system, you also get a lot of tools to help teams increase coordination, develop comprehensive reporting, and control multiple brands social profiles across every platform.
Why you Should go With Sprout Social:
- Best integrated tool for responding to posts (Smart Inbox)
- Integrates with Google Analytics
- Works great for agencies, or brands with multiple business units
4. HootSuite: Enterprise Solution
Contrary to my assertion that HootSuite is the best for enterprise it is also a great option for those with little to no budget as well. Hootsuite as the largest of the four applications listed wants users to give it a try. HootSuite has a free version that allows you to manage three social profiles, have access to basic analytics, and allows you to schedule content throughout the day or week.
HootSuite has a utilitarian design. It’s a tool that’s there to help post on social media accounts and for the most part, it does a good job. The user interface lacks the polish of the previously listed social media management tools on this list. However, they do what they say they do. One of most common complaints by users is that sometimes there is a disconnect between the way they think a post will look and the way it actually turns out
You may be asking “Why are you giving Hootsuite so much trouble”?
The answer is pretty simple. My philosophy here is that HootSuite is the industry leader and only by having users and reviewers pressure them will they change. Hootsuite actually did a UI refresh a couple years ago and it was in response to an overwhelming amount of angry tweets. Here’s the video.
HootSuite uses its own URL shorteners which are an additional paid feature. This is good and bad. It’s good in that all the link analytics are integrated with Hootsuite reports and bad because it’s more money to do something you could do for free with bit.ly or goo.gl.
Despite its shortcomings Hootsuite
- Is competitively priced at all industry sizes
- Allows users to link substantially more social media platforms together for the cost
- Integrates with Google Analytics
- Has a good mobile app
- Allows many, many tabs for monitoring information
HootSuite is a great place to start or grow, is a relatively affordable tool for enterprise users, and offers all of the basic necessities a social media management system should offer. What it lacks in polish it makes up for in price.
All of the tools listed above have strengths and weaknesses and for the majority of single users and small businesses, the final decision is likely to come down to cost or the usability of a specific social platform that covers your target audience.
Ian Anderson Gray compiled an important list about the hidden costs of social media management tools. He even provides a cost comparison calculator based on the features you think will be the most important to you. The only tool not included in
Ultimately, it’s up to you to choose the option that best for your business. Don’t take my word for any of this go out and experiment with the platforms and see which one serves you the best. Thank you so much for reading! Share on social media if you enjoyed the read or leave a comment. Do you have questions or want to make suggestions to help us add more social media content management tools to this post?
** This post was originally written in 2012 and was updated in February 2017 for additional context and clarity.