While there’s something to be said for just hitting the button, going live, and creating engaging video content on the fly… the fact is, a successful social media presence requires time, planning, and continual work.
Which means there is a lot of opportunities to bring in tools to help.
Great tools can save us time, enhance the results of what we’re doing, and even make the entire activity more enjoyable.
But there’s more than just apps to manage social networks (social media management tools). There are tools available to help create graphics, help post videos and stories, help measure results, and help collaborate with teams and influencers.
While I’m going to give you very specific tool recommendations within this post, what I want you to take from this is a sense for the variety of tools available, and an appreciation for how they can help you.
Virtually every great tool has a price tag associated with it. While it’s easy to allow an abundance of subscriptions to pile up, don’t let that dissuade you from trying different tools and giving yourself time to sort out the ideal combination. The result will save you far more time and money than the combined cost of the tools.
Social Media Management
Of course, your primary social media tool is going to be a “social media management tool” – these are tools designed to facilitate the various things you want to do and accomplish with your selected social networks. Typically, that includes publishing, scheduling, monitoring, listening and reporting.
Publishing – ability to create text, image and/or video posts
Scheduling – ability to set posts for a specific date/time, as well as repeat or queue
Monitoring – ability to view & react to mentions, comments, replies and messages
Listening – ability to see posts and content of interest
Reporting – ability to track progress and success
If you’re just getting started on social media, my best advice is to use every platform natively, and track your activity and progress in a spreadsheet. That ‘in the weeds’ approach will give you a greater understanding and appreciation for that network’s nuance.
Using the advice offered in other posts throughout this blog, you can get to know each platform and gradually mature to the point where you’re ready to get a tool involved.
The highest rated social media management tool, and my personal recommendation, is Agorapulse. (www.Agorapulse.com) I’ve used every tool available, and even wrote the book on Hootsuite, but have been using Agorapulse ever since I was introduced to the app in 2016.
Agorapulse supports Twitter, Facebook Pages & Groups, LinkedIn Profiles & Pages, Instagram and YouTube. So most of the major networks are covered.
What Agorapulse does exceedingly well is make it easy for brands to listen for comments, mentions, messages and conversations.
As a professional, you’ll appreciate being able to use Agorapulse to schedule out social media activity well in advance, and have just one place to go to keep an eye on engagement from your community.
As a friend of mine, you can also use the link above to get 2 months free!
If you aren’t already using a Social Media Planner, check this one out.
Now, depending on your business goals, target audience, and preferred social network, you will find one or more of the following additional tools invaluable.
Whether you’re focused on tweeting a dozen times or publishing YouTube videos regularly, you’re likely going to need to have some graphics created.
PhotoShop and Illustrator from Adobe are definitely top of the class when it comes to graphic design – but they come with steep fees and even steeper learning curves.
Instead, for most businesses, I recommend getting to know Easil. (https://about.easil.com/)
Easil is a web-based design tool that offers you predetermined size templates so that you can make sure you’re selecting the right size graphic for a Facebook Post or Pinterest Pin. And if you’re just getting started with graphic design, you can avail yourself of the content templates for ideas on what to actually make your graphics look like.
You can upload your own images or pull from the available free and premium stock images – and at just $1 per use, the premium stock images are incredibly affordable.
While Easil is extremely easy to use and will save you a lot of time, the real beauty of the solution is in the management and team collaboration capabilities.
For a low monthly fee, you can upload your brand fonts, store your brand colors, and share folders & designs among your collaborators. And of course all of your designs and uploads are libraried for future use.
If you haven’t used Easil, or really any graphic design program before, I highly recommend going through the free tutorials. They’ll get you up and running with great social media graphics in no time.
After you’ve been posting to social media for a couple of weeks, it’s time to start reviewing and reporting on the impact and success those posts have had.
First, each social network provides businesses with built-in analytics so that you can easily review key performance indicators (KPI) like follower growth, engagement, and reach. If you’re managing multiple social profiles, a tool like Agorapulse mentioned above will be of great help here.
But, while social media post performance is important, that doesn’t necessarily reflect bottom line business results. For that, you need a tool like Google Analytics. (analytics.google.com)
With Google Analytics monitoring all of the traffic and activity to and on your website, you will be able to gauge the actual effectiveness of your social media presence.
- How much traffic did each social network send?
- Which page(s) did those visitors view?
- Which goals and events did the visitors trigger?
Properly configured and informed, Google Analytics can know exactly what your preferred business outcomes are, whether that’s to fill out a lead generation form, purchase a product, or sign up for something else.
And if Google Analytics knows your goals, that means those goals can be tracked, including how your visitors came to complete those goals.
Additionally, when sharing links to specific URLs to social networks, you can configure the links with “UTM Parameters” like ‘campaign’ or ‘source’ so that links and posts can be identified. This will give you the ability to measure exactly how specific posts or networks perform and help your business.
While some have complained over the years about Facebook’s stance toward businesses – making them pay for the ability to reach new audiences – there’s a simple, undeniable fact:
Facebook Advertising is the most cost-effective advertising medium available to businesses today.
Any business that thinks spending a few hundred dollars a month to get their brand, content and message in front of tens of thousands of targeted prospects needs to re-evaluate their priorities.
That’s why AdEspresso (www.adespresso.com) is my next recommended tool – not only does it facilitate Facebook ads, it makes the creation, monitoring, and learning from those ads a piece of cake.
You can create and copy campaigns, call up easy-to-understand reports, and even split test key elements like ad placement or audience or text/imagery.
A free alternative if you’re focused on building reports and learning from the ads you’re running is AdsReport! Login with your Facebook ID, select your ad account, and see just how well you did with your campaigns.
Is it just you running your social media marketing, or do you have a team involved? If you have a team (even if it’s for more than just social media marketing), let’s make sure you have an easy way to plan, communicate and track your social media campaigns, content and calendaring.
Asana (www.asana.com) is a worthy candidate for the job.
Asana lets you organize everything among Campaigns and Tasks, assign them to team members, create deadlines, and see it all within calendar or dashboard views.
You can even track company goals and milestones.
If you’re currently using email or spreadsheets (or nothing at all), this is the tool for you.
CRM / Social Selling
Once you’ve gotten your feet wet on the sunlit shores of social media, it’s time to start selling.
But wait! We’re not talking about posting over and over again about your latest sale or service. Your social audience is NOT browsing Facebook just to buy from you.
Social Media is about being social, which means building audience and relationships. It’s a long game. Whether you’re targeting individual purchasers, or influencers for access to larger pools of potential customers, you’re going to need help tracking the people you want and need to talk to.
Nimble (www.nimble.com) is the perfect tool for that.
Nimble integrates easily with all of the major social networks, and your email/calendar, giving you access to powerful synchronization. Every time you tweet or email a key individual, it’ll be reflected on their Nimble contact record.
You can tag contacts in a variety of ways to help you monitor segments, create reports, and track progress through pre-determined pipelines.
Most important, Nimble can help you make sure you stay in touch with the people that matter most to your business.
Finally, when it comes to social media success, the only way to be successful is to create content.
Tweets, Facebook posts, videos, blog posts, graphics… it’s all just different forms of content. We’ve mentioned a few tools that can assist you with the creation and management of that content, but you’re going to need something else.
Google Docs (docs.google.com) are about to become your best friend.
First and foremost, Google Docs are a great place to draft blog posts and landing pages and other forms of text, both short and long. It’s an easy to use word processor that also includes automatic backup, cloud access, and team collaboration.
Being able to see comments and revisions from team members can prove incredibly valuable.
You can also use Google Docs to create long-term resources for your business and social media activity:
- Useful statistics
- Lists of URLs to share
- Saved replies
- Tweets and other social posts
- Ad headlines, copy, and audience determination
- Campaigns and documented activity
Google Slides and Google Sheets are also very useful, and all can be safely organized within shared, Team Drives for easy, remote access.
Put Word or text editors aside and start using Google Docs in your everyday business!
With these or similar tools in place, you will position you and your business to achieve success on social networks, while at the same time save yourself time and money.