Tools for Social Media Marketing

More than ten years ago, consumers stopped taking seriously most businesses that didn’t have Web sites. Today, the same stigma is attached to businesses that aren’t on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or whatever a consumer’s favorite social media network may be. If you wish to maximize sales, you’d better be using the social media that your customers use. Here are some tips and tools to make it easier…

Ecommerce is Becoming Social

It’s not enough to have a “presence” on Facebook; you must also keep it active, fresh, and engaging. Of course, you also need analytics that tell you how effective each social network is at bringing you customers, and how well each marketing campaign does. Oh, and someone has to review each posting before it goes out to make sure it won’t offend anyone.
Multiply that effort by X different social networks and you have a major time sink. Fortunately, there are software and service tools that can make the complexities of social media management manageable.
But before we get into those tools, let’s pare down the list of social networks that you should be on. It makes no sense to pour effort into LinkedIn if your prospects hate LinkedIn and avoid it. (Here, I use “prospects” to mean current customers to whom you want to sell something.) On the other hand, your opinion of Twitter doesn’t matter if that’s where your prospects hang out. The simplest way to learn what social media your prospects use is to ask them.
Social Media Marketing
A “social media preference” survey should be an ongoing part of every contact you have with prospects. Note the word “preference;” you want to know what social network(s) prospects actively use, not just whether they have dormant accounts that they never check into. Ask preference questions regularly because people’s preferences change. (See my related article: Five Free Online Survey Tools.)
If you’re just starting, or you haven’t surveyed your customers, out you may not have a clue about your current or potential customers’ social media preferences. So start out on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and drop any that don’t consistently bring in new sales or leads. If you have time, branch out to Pinterest, Google+, or Instagram. When you stop being active on a social network, be sure to leave a pointer to your “home” Web presence for the occasional visitor to follow.
Features to look for in social media management tools include:

  • Ability to schedule posts to “go live” in the future
  • Administrator approval of posts before they go out
  • Basic analytics for each post: likes, shares, comments, retweets, etc.
  • Preview of posts as they will look on the social network(s)
  • Ability to have multiple employees/helpers cooperate on social media accounts
  • Ability to send a post to one of multiple profiles you may have on one social network
  • Two-factor authentication to prevent unauthorized use of your tools or accounts

The most important of those features is the first one, which allows you to queue up a bunch of postings, and have them automatically posted to each social media outlet automatically, over the course of days or weeks. It would be hard enough to remember to post something every day, but having to do it by hand would make it even more onerous.
What should you post? That’s the key to getting engagement on social media sites. Obvious things are special sales, coupons, and notifications of new products. But consider also links to relevant articles, tips on using your products, and other information that’s less of a sales pitch. Include a photo with every posting, as they’re proven to get attention and increase clicks. Anything that’s likely to be shared, liked or retweeted will help you expand your sphere of influence to new prospects.
Social network management tools have tiered pricing plans keyed to the number of social accounts that you wish to manage. Also, higher-priced plans may include more features. Almost every tool offers a free trial period, and some “personal” tier plans are free indefinitely.
Here are three powerful and popular social network management tools; try them out on a small scale to see how they fit your needs and workstyle before buying the plan that’s appropriate for your business:
HootSuite: the free plan supports up to three social accounts; the Pro Plan for $8.99/month supports up to 50 accounts; another 50 accounts can be added on if you really need them. The Pro Plan offers a 30-day free trial period. An Enterprise plan can be customized for very large organizations.
Buffer: 7-day free trial, then your choice of Awesome Plan (10 social accounts, $10/month), Small Business (25 accounts, $50/month), Medium (50 accounts, $100) and Large (150 accounts, $250).
Sprout Social: 30-day free trial, then choice of three tiers. $59/month supports up to 10 accounts; $99 up to 20 accounts; $500 supports up to 3 users, each with up to 30 accounts.
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below…


More Posts about Social Media:

  • Social Marketing With Live Video Streams

  • 400 Free Tools For Business Building

  • Social Marketing With Twitter Website Cards

  • Tools for Social Media Marketing

  • The Best Social Media Exposure?

Comments

  1. Bob, as you know, I do not have a business, I am retired. However, I do deal with businesses, all the time, especially online.
    If, your business is mainly, marketing items to sell to the public … I, as a customer, want to see Reviews of “said” product, if, at all possible. Customers Reviews mean, a lot to me. Of course, not all products will get a Customer Review(s).
    Now, if, you are a Professional, like a Doctor … LinkedIn is a very good place, to connect with other Professionals. However, your “customers” or patients will not necessarily belong to LinkedIn or know anything about, what it is. But, for professional reasons, LinkedIn is truly a must for you.
    Then, it becomes very important, to find the “right” Social Media”, for a Professional Practice. Many doctors are using Facebook, for the ability, to interact with their patients. The main problem, that I see, is the Privacy or Patient Confidentiality issue, with Facebook. Basically, Facebook is very bad, for Privacy issues.
    Now, Facebook is definitely good, for most businesses. You can “keep” a pulse, on what your customers think or don’t think.
    Facebook has more people/members, than Twitter has. Plus, Twitter is limited to 140 Characters, while with Facebook, comments are not limited to a certain amount of letters or characters. Twitter is still, an excellent way of connecting with your customers.
    Google+ hasn’t come into it’s own, yet. I wish, I had a crystal ball, so that, I could see “into” the future, as to where Google+ is actually going. I know that many, many people are upset and disgusted with Facebook and Google+ is a definite alternative and easy to use. So, I think, it is important that a Businessman/woman use all of their options and set up a Google+ Account, for those who use Google+.
    These are my thoughts, on this topic, from a customer’s point of view.

  2. Good article Bob! I’m a social media strategist and you’ve covered the basics here! I always tell clients to talk about their audience and industry about 75%/80% of the time and only be “selly” about 20-20% of the time. Otherwise, people get turned off.
    Also, it’s important to know that all the work that you implement on social media is not owned by you. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. is “rented land” for you. If they shut down tomorrow (not likely), all of your information/work would be gone. I always set up an email capture system (Aweber, Mailchimp, etc.) on my client’s social media platform sites so that they do have ownership of something tangible.
    Thanks for always posting such great information. I’ve been following you for years! Keeping up the great work!
    Becky

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