No business today can afford to turn a blind eye to social media. Sure, you may survive, but you certainly can’t thrive without leveraging social media marketing. Consider these facts:
- Your customers are online: There are over 3.2 billion (42% of the entire population) daily active social media users with an average of 2 hours and 22 minutes spent on social media networks and messaging per day. (Source)
- Your customers expect your presence: More than 1 in 3 Internet users say they go to social networks when looking for more information about a brand or product. (Source)
- Your competition is doing it: 77.6% of small businesses report using social media to promote their businesses. (Source)
Furthermore, besides helping you increase brand awareness, social media gives you an opportunity to build meaningful relationships with your customers, turning them into lifelong fans of your brand. It’ll help humanize your brand, bring traffic and leads to your website, spy on your competitors' strategy/performance, manage your online reputation, among numerous other benefits.
Thus, social media marketing is an integral part of your business’s marketing strategy. That said, managing your business’s social media handles is not a cakewalk, and can be a headache. If you plan to do it yourself without hiring a dedicated social media manager, you’ll need a proper toolkit to stay on top of things. Here is a list of handpicked tools for all the different tasks you’ll need to perform in order to efficiently run your business’s social media channels.
Obviously, your mind is the number one ideation tool and it’ll often be sufficient to keep things fresh on your social handles, especially in the beginning.
However, it won’t be long before you hit your first creative block or run out ideas to post on your social media. This is when knowledge of some ideation tools or sources of inspiration will come in handy.
When in doubt, check these out:
- BuzzSumo: This is of the best ideation tools for social media and content marketing. All you have to do is enter your target keyword or desired topic and it’ll show you the most shared content across all the social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.). So, you can take data-driven inspiration for planning your social calendar.
- Google Trends: This tool from Google allows you to quickly and easily check what’s trending currently and see if the level of consumer interest in it is increasing or decreasing.
- Answer The Public: With this tool, you’ll understand what all information your audience is seeking on a particular topic. You can see all the questions they ask (what, why, how, and so on) and accordingly decide what you can post on your business’s social handles.
- Forums: Visiting question-and-answer websites like Reddit and Quora is another great way to learn what topics are hot in your niche that need answering.
Social media is all about visuals. And that means a majority of your social content will be in the form of creative graphics, beautiful imagery, animations, and videos.
While hiring a graphic designer is pretty much a basic necessity if you want to truly establish your social presence and authority, there are tools that enable you, a non-designer, to whip-up professional-looking visuals with relative ease.
Here are a couple of tools you’ll need:
- Canva: A fantastic tool that every brand or business online should know about is Canva. This is the tool so many small businesses and marketers rely on for making great-looking social media visuals quickly. With hundreds of ready-made templates, icons, illustrations, and an intuitive drag-and-drop interface, all you need is a bit of creativity to create beautiful graphics.
- AutoClipping: Oftentimes, you’ll want to remove the background of your image or separate one particular element of the image from the rest. You can either learn complex and expensive tools like Photoshop for this simple task or you can do it instantly in a couple of clicks using this online tool.
- Animoto: Video editing is usually viewed as a daunting task. However, with Animoto, you can create impressive videos in minutes without any prior video editing experience. Some excellent alternatives worth checking out include Powtoon and Vyond.
- Biteable: Using an online DIY video maker tool like Biteable, you can quickly turn your existing blog post into engaging explainers or slideshows that are easily sharable on social media.
Free image tools
Your social media channels and blog (if you have one, and you should) are going to be extremely image-hungry. Fortunately, high-quality stock photos and illustrations don’t have to cost a dime thanks to websites like Unsplash, Pixabay, Pexels, and unDraw.
Social listening is the monitoring of your brand's social media platforms for customer feedback, direct mentions of your brand, and discussions regarding related keywords, topics, competitors, or industries, followed by an analysis of this data to gain further insights and act on these opportunities.
Consumers today tend to be open about their experiences with businesses and willingly share their reviews online. Now, online reviews on social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter, and on reputed review platforms such as Trustpilot, are pivotal to the success of your business. In fact, according to a consumer survey, 84% of people trust online reviews and testimonials as much as they would a personal recommendation.
In other words, your customers are talking about your brand online. Regardless of whether they’re praising your brand or reproaching it, your job is to be in the know and respond in a timely and courteous manner.
You could do basic social monitoring manually, which means checking each social network separately for mentions, keywords, hashtags, and so on. But this would demand a lot of your time which would be better spent on other crucial business activities. And so, consider using the following tools to continually track your social reputation:
- Mention: This tools continually scours the web and social media for brand mentions and gives detailed insights and reports tailored to your business. It also allows you to analyze your competition’s performance and find social influencers in your niche.
- Awario: Similar to Mention, Awario gives real-time insights about your brand mentions from all around the web, including blogs, forums, news, and every social network.
Scheduling and analytics tools
Managing your business’s social media on the fly is not a good idea. You need to take the time to create a solid content strategy for each of your chosen social platforms.
This strategy translates into a pre-scheduled calendar that clearly defines what content will you be posting at what time and on which platform, for the coming months. Essentially, you’re automating your posting so you don’t have to look into this matter every single day.
Also, you must periodically review your performance to see what’s working and what’s not. This will help you in planning your future campaigns in the right direction. All major social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have built-in analytics so you can check how well your posts are doing in terms of reach and engagement. However, if you are on more than two platforms, reviewing these reports individually can become time-consuming and tedious.
Check out the following social scheduling and analytics tools and figure out which one suits your taste:
- Buffer: Manage all your social media accounts with this one tool. Buffer enables you to easily schedule all your social posts in advance and provides actionable analytics for each platform to track and improve your performance. Its built-in calendar format to schedule and edit posts is extremely intuitive. Moreover, you can respond to all direct messages from Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, from one simple team inbox.
- Hootsuite: Another absolutely sublime all-in-one social media management tool is Hootsuite. Curating content, scheduling posts, monitoring conversations about your brand, and tracking engagement and ROI, all under one roof.
As you can see, there is so much more to social media marketing than meets the eye. The tools mentioned in this post will take some burden off your shoulders and streamline your marketing activities.
Which tools do you currently use or plan on using? Make sure to let us know in the comments below.
Pratik Dholakiya is the Founder of The 20 Media, a content marketing agency specializing in content & data-driven SEO. He regularly speaks at various conferences about SEO, Content Marketing, Entrepreneurship, and Digital PR. Pratik has spoken at 80th Annual Conference of Florida Public Relations Association, Accounting & Finance Show, Singapore, NextBigWhat’s UnPluggd, IIT-Bombay, SMX Israel, SEMrush Meetup, MICA, IIT-Roorkee and other major events. As a passionate SEO & content marketer, he shares his thoughts and knowledge in publications like Search Engine Land, Search Engine Journal, Entrepreneur Magazine, Fast Company, The Next Web, YourStory and Inc42 to name a few.