Social media can be confusing.
Keeping up with the multiple social channels; posting original content and coming up with a social media plan that generates leads, engagement, revenue or some other tangible goal can make you feel like pulling out your hair.
However, studies show that social media marketing works. In 2014, investment in social media is a necessity, and no longer a luxury.
According to Social Media Examiner, companies using social media for 3 or 4 years see an improvement in their search rankings too.
Social media is not just a trend that’s going to pass – and marketers are taking note of it. Since there’s no ignoring social media, here are some tips on how you can make it painfree and easy (even if you hate it).
The Ultimate Guide to Social Media Marketing for Business
Choose your social media platforms
You don’t have to be active on all social platforms out there. There, I said it. You can breathe now.
In fact, be very aware of what accounts you monitor and focus on.
Don’t spread yourself too thin. As a rule of thumb, if you’re starting out, have your presence on the “Big 4” sites:
You should consider Pinterest and Instagram depending on your target audience. Once these are out of the way, you may then consider the more focused community-based platforms such as Tumblr, StumbleUpon and the likes.
Everything else? Only focus on them once you’ve crossed the bare-minimums off your list. So when your photographer friend comes raving about a new social platform, stop and ask some smart questions before jumping in and creating another “free” (and soon-to-be-dormant) account.
It could be that a platform works well for them because it attracts a strong community of people interested in photography and related services.
But for you? It’s plain distraction. Choose and invest your time wisely.
Be intentional about social media
Many small business owners focus on the immediate number of followers or shares. Only about one in three marketers agree that they are able to measure their social activities ROI.
What is your goal from those followers? Is it brand awareness, leads or loyalty? If most of the 25,466 followers on your Twitter are disengaged, does that do any good to your ROI?
In short, get clear about your end-goal from social media.
Make posting a part of your morning routine to schedule posts for social media. For example, if you’re a retailer, you can have a daily post about “Featured and discounted item of the day” with visuals.
Have “themed days” so your audience gets used to expecting a certain type of content from you depending on the weekday. When your intention is clearly laid out, it’s super-easy to come up with content and you gradually build a habit to post everyday.
You can spend as little as 6 hours/week on social media and still generate leads off it.
According to Social Media Examiner’s 2014 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, more than 64% of marketers are doing just that. Out of those, more than 84% saw an increase in their traffic from the invested hours of effort.
Here are 6 social media marketing tools to make your management pain free, quick and easy.
Sometimes you just don’t have the time, inclination or energy to manage several social accounts.
In an ideal world, you want an inhouse person or team to take charge of your social media. But hiring a dedicated staff as a small business can be expensive.
For small businesses, outsourcing is a brilliant midway that doesn’t cost much and let’s you dedicate a resource for your social media tasks. Done-for-you service $99 Social can help you save time and money.
At $99/mo, you get a dedicated account manager who posts individualized content 7 days a week to your pages.
If you’re the DIY type, here are more tools that will help.
You can use popular tools like IFTTT and Buffer for scheduling purposes. But what if you’re posting great content all at wrong times?
Small businesses can be smart by analyzing the best times to post with Tweriod.
Go to Tweriod and sign in with your Twitter account. Tweriod will work out a report based on your followers. Once the report is ready, they share it via DM. The free version can analyze upto 1000 followers.
You’ve already heard about tools such as Hootsuite and Sendible. These work well for small and mid-sized businesses.
If you are a B2B marketer with a lot of content to distribute, Oktopost makes social media management easy across your many profiles, groups and company pages. It can also monitor LinkedIn company pages and groups. Oktopost focuses on tracking to determine which channels bring the most ROI.
The tool integrates with Marketo and Salesforce also.
You can start your 30-day free trial and choose from plans as less as $9/mo to $249/mo for multiple users.
4. Content curation
Swayy tells you what to share with your audience on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Once you share a suggested piece of content, you can view analytics inside the app (retweets, mentions, favorites, followers, shares links clicked etc).
You can start with $0/mo for one dashboard.
5. Visual content
Social has evolved into visual social. Twitter recently allowed larger header images following Facebook’s successful move to Timeline in 2011 that brought a whopping 65% increase in engagement for Facebook.
According to a study conducted by the folks at Buffer, images can increase retweet rate by 150%.
Compfight is a free Flickr search tool that makes image sourcing a breeze. It pulls all photos under Creative Commons for Commercial use license.
You can do a quick search for emotions, objects, concepts and pick an image that best represents your content. Compfight also provides you with an HTML attribution code to give attribution to the owner.
Search results for “smile”
6. Online reputation
Topsy is a neat little social search engine to keep a tab on what’s being said about you or your brand online. Just punch in the keyword (or your name, industry, competitor) and Topsy will search links, tweets, photos videos, and any influencers who mentioned you.
You can sort the search results by relevance, oldest or newest.
Here’s a search result on my name:
Wrapping it up
There are simple ways to make your social media management a breeze, and they don’t have to cost you a fortune. When it comes to social tools, which ones are your favorites? Share with us in the comments!
Guest Author: Pooja Lohana is an Online Business Coach + Writer & Editor. She helps entrepreneurs shine their blog and copy, and simplifies online marketing so they can make more sales and live the Un-9-5 life. Check out her step-by-step course on breaking into freelance writing.