Not that long ago, one of the best ways a business owner could get in front of consumers was to take out a small ad in the Yellow Pages. Potential customers “let their fingers do the walking” through the huge paper directory of businesses and would stumble upon yours. And if your business name started with an A, B, or C so that it was listed first? Even better.
But those days are gone, and – like it or not – your business needs to be everywhere consumers may be looking for you. Along with search engines, review sites, and industry-related directories, the big hitters are social media networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, and LinkedIn.
In fact, the 2019 Social Media User Trends Report from GlobalWebIndex cites that 4 out of 10 consumers will use social networks to research a new brand or product. And for consumers aged 16 to 24, social media is the top method for research, outweighing search engines since 2017.
All right, already – you get it: Social media is important (critical?) for your business. However, managing six different networks while trying to run your business can be difficult at best. So, it’s probably time to invest in a social media management app to help facilitate your social media while being your brand’s eyes and ears in the social realm.
To assist you in making the most educated choice, consider the following five statements and whether the tool you’re eyeing enables you to fulfill all of them.
1. Be everywhere
As previously mentioned, your business needs to be represented in all the places where your potential customers are. Make a list of all of the social networks and which ones drive the most leads to you. Maybe you’ve determined that Facebook and LinkedIn are the best sources for your company or that Instagram and Pinterest are your top performers.
Armed with this list, you’ll want to choose a social media management app that publishes to and tracks those networks. Not all tools publish to all networks, so you want to ensure that your top social networks are represented.
Keep in mind that you might need to sacrifice features for the ability to publish to your principal social networks and vice versa.
Hootsuite integrates with the six biggest networks as well as publishes to WordPress.
2. Be responsive
When customers contact your company through social media, you must respond quickly. A quick and appropriate response is also needed when fans comment on and ask questions within your posts or ads, write Facebook reviews, and talk about your brand anywhere on social media.
An effective social media management app will enable you to track, monitor, and respond to all of these points of engagement (and then some) by:
Monitoring: From inside the app, monitoring lets you review and respond to all social network engagement, including comments and replies on posts, direct messages, tags of your brand on other users’ comments and posts, and comments on your social media ads. Ideally, the app will funnel this engagement into one place, grouped by social network, so that you can easily take action.
Listening: Not to be confused with monitoring, listening enables you to track and respond to mentions of your brand when it is not You want to know when someone’s talking about your business, don’t you? And when your website content is shared, the listening feature will pick up those posts too.]
Another use of the listening feature is when the products and services you offer are “hinted at” on social media. For example, if you’re a plumber, you might listen on Twitter for phrases and hashtags like “leaky faucet,” “#BurstPipe,” or “water heater” in your service area. When appropriate, respond and offer your services or provide a blog post from your website with helpful information. Don’t worry about looking like a creeper, because everything in the Twittersphere is public.
Wendy’s has become quite famous for the fast-food chain’s fun, sometimes snarky, and very responsive Twitter feed. In this case, Wendy’s Tweeted a deal on Frosty at 4:46 pm. A “disgruntled” patron replied at 6:15 pm. Wendy’s responded the next day at 7:10 am with a solution. Can your social media management app help you be as responsive? It should.
3. Be effective
If a tree falls in the woods when no one is around to see it, does it make a sound? Similarly, if you publish a post about your anniversary party on three different social networks and no one sees it, does it have an impact? The answer to the latter is a resounding no.
For social media to be effective, you need to reach your audience at the right time and with the right message for the medium.
In other words, your social media management app should provide the reporting and analytics that enable you to make smarter decisions. What’s the best day to post, and what’s the best time of day? When are your followers most active on each network? And what types of posts are better for each network?
Not only are the analytics important, but so is having the reports in a format that works for you. Considerations for reporting include downloadable reports; post-level statistics; reports in PPT, PDF, and/or CSV; hashtag reports; and engagement reports. Determine what kind of reporting you need and ensure your tool can provide it.
In addition, if your business is a global brand, another consideration for your tool becomes the ability to post content depending on your followers’ time zones. The goal with this kind of data is to enable you to make more strategic decisions with your publishing, so choose a social media management app that helps you be more effective.
Agorapulse provides a report on Facebook that details fan growth and the number of posts published in addition to the best day, best time, and the best type of post to publish. This type of information enables you to get better and better at posting effective and engaging content.
4. Be consistent
In the world of advertising, the general rule is that customers need to see an ad seven times before they purchase. The idea is that a consistent message tends to work. Translate that to social media – frequent, consistent posting of content will keep you top of mind for current and potential customers.
A good social media management app will enable consistent posting on your behalf with
Repeat Posts: If your tool has a repeat option, it will duplicate a post again in the future, either at a date/time that you schedule or after a certain amount of time has passed. Note: some social networks (ex. Twitter) don’t allow for repeated posts.
Queuing Content: With a queue feature, your tool lets you choose specific days and times to publish posts. (You determine these with the great analytics that your tool provides, of course.) Then, you provide content to be published, and the tool fills up your queue.
Curation: The above features publish your original, evergreen content, including blog posts, general branding, education, service offerings, and the like. But creating all that content can be time-consuming for a small business. With a content curation feature, your tool can help you find relevant content from other sources to share with your following. You simply review and schedule it.
eClincher provides content curation from a variety of sources, including RSS feeds, Feedly, Pocket, and general news archives based on keywords.
5. Be savvy
Most people wouldn’t buy a car without taking it for a test drive. The same should be true for any tool that you purchase. Almost every social media management app comes with a free trial – some for as long as 30 days. Take advantage of free trials to explore tools’ functionality, reporting, and all its bells and whistles.
Find out whether the tool integrates into other software that your company currently uses. And, if applicable, check out the team collaboration aspect of any tool to ensure that it fits your needs.
You know your business better than anyone else, and that includes your financial capabilities and constraints. You don’t want to break the bank but make smart choices in investing in a tool. (Cheaper isn’t always better.) Truly analyze the ROI of purchasing this type of tool.
Take into account the amount of time you and/or your staff spend publishing content to multiple sources, compiling data from multiple sources, curating content to share, reviewing and responding to engagement on multiple sources, and so on. And don’t forget to account for the overall improvement that the tool will bring to your company, through quicker response times, optimized posts that drive more engagement, and increased awareness and reach.
MavSocial provides four plan levels, each building upon the other in terms of the number of social profiles, social networks, users, and more. All plans come with a free 14-day trial.
Choosing a social media management app is no small feat. Social media consultant Ian Anderson Gray has published a comprehensive Buyer’s Guide to help professionals like you make the best choice for your company. It includes a handy side-by-side comparison of 13 tools on roughly 70 different features. This free guide will lead you to the tools that provide them.
Guest author: Andi Lucas is the founder and owner of Hummingbird Marketing Services, a boutique marketing firm based in Seattle and serving clients around the globe. Andi has almost 25 years of marketing, editing/writing, and overall business experience.