In the modern age of digital marketing, there is no limit to the number of outreach methods and ways to connect with potential customers. Near the top of the list in terms of importance stands social media. Social media allows for not only the direct connection with current customers and possible future clients, but it opens lines of dialog and provides an assortment of analytical data for fine-tuning marketing campaigns. With that said, the dozens of social media platforms can instantly take over a marketer's time. Large corporations have entire departments dedicated specifically to social media marketing. Of course, for a small business, this kind of time investment deviates a marketing professional from other methods of advertising. As most small to medium-sized businesses rely on a single individual (or perhaps a small team) to handle all marketing avenues, finding ways to better utilize time on social media platforms is crucial. Thankfully, there are available tools designed to assist with this issue. With these time-saving social media marketing tools, it's possible to increase productivity while reducing the total amount of time spent within the social ecosystems, regardless of the business, it’s size or target audience.
One of the best ways to grow a social media following is to connect with current social influences. Every industry, from fashion to metal works, has social influencers. These are individuals who move the needle and can instantly increase traffic to a company’s social profiles and websites (which in turn helps generate new leads, develop potential customers and increase sales). Finding these social influencers is difficult yet extremely important for a business. It also helps make social media marketing that much easier when there’s a recognizable face sharing posts from the company. The biggest problem most businesses run into here though is identifying the right influencer and connecting with them. This is where Buzzsumo can help.
Buzzsumo offers different features and opportunities than any of the tools and platforms on this list. The Buzzsumo software looks over other social media profiles based on what a company posts, shared interests, keywords and other variables to identify potential influencers who could serve as an optimal influencer fit for the brand.
The usage of social influencers has increased in importance over the last several years. However, not all businesses want to (or are ready) to go down this path. Buzzsumo understands this, which is why a subscription to the company provides more than just influencer identification tools. It provides companies with a brand-monitoring feature. It works like a Google Trends feature on steroids, where whenever a business is mentioned, Buzzsumo notifies the company. This also works with specified keywords, domains and backlinks. The services and tools offered by Buzzsumo revolve around monitoring influence and growing influence, both of which are crucial for improving a company’s social media marketing capability. By doing much of the dirty work in identifying trends and mentions, it also helps cut down on the amount of time needed to perform these important tasks, allowing the advertising department to take advantage of the gathered information and use it in upcoming social posts and outreach campaigns.
Buzzsumo does come with a selection of different plans and price points. The entry-level plan begins at $99 a month and increases up to $299 for standard plans. The $99 plan comes with unlimited searches, five "alert" bookmarks (for brand mentions, backlinks, and keywords) and up to 5,000 actual mentions a month. The $299 plan comes with unlimited searches, 30 "alert" bookmarks and up to 20,000 mentions per month. It also comes with a question and Facebook analyzer feature. A custom plan through Buzzsumo runs $499 and up. Discounted rates are available when paying for a year at sign-up. The service does provide a seven-day free trial period for testing out the services to see if it offers what a business wants in its social media advertising.
Hootsuite stands as one of the most well-known and respected social media marketing tools out there. It also offers a wide range of price points. For small businesses, the price point often proves to be the sticking point. There are all sorts of excellent social marketing tools available, yet some of these are priced out of what a start-up or small business can afford. Hootsuite is different. The company provides powerful, timesaving social media marketing tools at $25 a month (if fewer than 10 social media profiles are integrated into the platform).
For larger businesses, more social media accounts are likely needed. Some companies may implement regional platforms while others create different accounts based on the target audience. Both bring with it sizeable benefits as a college-based target audience will likely look for something different in its social media interaction than that of a retired senior citizen (even if the product itself is the same). To better fit the needs of larger (or growing) companies, Hootsuite offers services for companies with up to 20 social accounts and up to 50 social accounts.
The number of integrated accounts (10, 20 and 50) will dictate the eventual monthly price point. However, regardless of the price point, each user will receive the same tools. This includes cloud-based integration from Dropbox, Google Drive, and others. Scheduling social media posts is a main feature in the platform, as are the analytical tools offered for measuring results found on different social media platforms.
For companies interested in taking advantage of Hootsuite, there is a 30-day free trial to experiment with all the tools before moving forward with signing up for the service.
The "Professional" plan from Hootsuite begins at $25 a month, covers up to 10 social profiles, a single user, and unlimited scheduling. The "Team" plan runs $129 a month, covers 20 social profiles, three users, and unlimited scheduling. The "Business" plan runs $499 a month, covers 50 social profiles, allows for up to 10 users and offers unlimited scheduling (in addition to other features such as a platform certification, 24/7 priority support, premium app integration and other features).
The world of social media almost completely revolves around mobile platforms and interfaces. While the likes of Facebook and LinkedIn started for desktops, more users now log onto their accounts using a mobile device than via traditional means. Despite this, many of the top social media outreach tools are designed specifically for desktop implementation. While the timesaving tools work on potential customers who access social media through portable devices, companies, and marketing heads are often on the go as well, so having a mobile application dedicated to improving social media interaction is especially helpful. This is where the Buffer application comes in.
Buffer provides similar features as services like Hootsuite and Sprout Social. However, what sets it apart is the mobile application it offers. Nearly everything the desktop application offers is easily accessible on the mobile app, without a complicated or difficult to navigate interface. It's possible to schedule out weeks (or even months) worth of social media campaigns right from a smartphone or tablet. Account analytics and reports covering everything from current social outreach to retweets and likes are covered by the application.
Some of the other platforms do provide more powerful tools through desktop software, but for a marketing head always on the go and in search of ways to improve marketing potential in between phone calls, meetings, or from the back of the subway car, Buffer is by far the best mobile application out there. Buffer also uses an RSS feed (like feeds found on blogs and podcasts), which makes it easy to publish and push video GIFs, images and other content from the mobile platform directly to a blog and other social services for instant publishing.
The starter plan from Buffer is free, allows up to three social accounts, a single user and can schedule out 10 posts per profile (it covers Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Instagram). The "Pro" plan is $15 a month, covers eight social accounts (including Pinterest), is good for a single user and can schedule out up to 100 posts per profile. The Small Business Plan is $99 a month, covers 25 social accounts, supports five users and can schedule out 2,000 posts per profile. The Medium Business Plan is $199 a month, covers 50 social accounts, supports up to 10 users and can schedule out 2,000 posts per profile. The Large Business Plan also schedules out 2,000 posts per profile, can cover up to 150 social accounts and supports up to 25 users.
Not all companies are business to consumer based. Some are business to business. These kinds of businesses rely on different services to interact with other businesses. This also means specific tools are needed to boost social media interaction and marketing when targeting other businesses. Most advertising services specialize in B2C, which is why Oktopost is a valuable tool. It specializes in B2B companies instead. After all, social media utilization is different, as is the desired form of engagement. Lead generating is often the desired goal for a B2B marketing department, regardless of the industry. Posting to Facebook or Twitter every few hours is not the best course of action with this kind of a company, and that is exactly why using Oktopost can help, both with understanding the right kind of content to post but how and when to post it.
Oktopost works with companies in understanding the best social media platforms, depending on the business and the desired corporate audience. These kinds of companies may rely more heavily on LinkedIn, or visual services, depending on what it offers. While Oktopost is geared specifically toward B2B companies, it's an important and valuable tool to take advantage of.
Oktopost provides a customized service for every business. Due to this, pricing can vary, and the company does not provide cost levels. For interested businesses, it’s possible to request a free demo of the software and see how it integrates into the company’s own social media accounts. From there, Oktopost can create a tailor crafted program management package for the business.
In many ways, Sprout Social shares similarities to that of Hootsuite. It’s a one-stop-shop for managing all social media accounts. Each provides a slightly different user interface, so while it may not prove necessary to use both, experimenting with each should help businesses determine which is better suited for the individual needs of the company.
While Sprout Social and Hootsuite do offer many overlapping features, Sprout Social allows a subscriber to store all social posts and search for the content directly through the platform. This way, if a user wants to bring back a post, edit it or simply monitor specific posts, all of this is possible. Sprout Social also remains one of the more visually based platforms, which some may like over the alternative when it comes to reading through analytical data and identifying trends and successful content posts.
Another benefit offered by Sprout Social is the ability for multiple team members to work on social media campaigns at the same time while remaining in contact with one another. While larger companies are more likely to utilize this feature, it helps offer a level of uniformity, which is crucial for any company's marketing capability. It also makes it possible to respond to messages, posts, and comments all through the Sprout Social platform, instead of logging into individual accounts and combing through these posts. For multiple-user accounts, individuals can add internal notes for other users to view. This creates a cloud-based social media marketing service, which can be helpful when an advertisement department is not always able to work at the same time on posts and shared content. This helps improve time management while boosting user productivity.
For Twitter power users, Sprout Social brings hashtag monitoring technology, so it’s possible to see what tags trending are, which currently used tags are connecting with the most account users and generating the most traffic. The hashtag feature also works on other platforms, such as Instagram, where social tagging works as well.
The entry “Premium” plan is $99 per month, supports up to 10 social profiles and comes with several tools (check out the Sprout Social website to see everything as there are a number of professional tools). The “Corporate” plan costs $149 a month and covers 15 social profiles, while the “Enterprise” plan supports up to 20 social profiles and runs at $249 a month. All plans come with a free 30-day trial.
There are all sorts of available social media marketing tools, most of which are designed to boost productivity and cut down on time utilization. It’s key for any business to go out and experiment with these different services. Most of the providers offer free trial periods, allowing a business to experiment and determine what works best for the company’s needs. No matter what a business sells or who it’s target audience is, continually testing out new ways to save time without reducing its outreach is extremely important. These timesaving social media marketing tools offer a valuable starting point and ways to progress social interaction both now and into the future.
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What is your experience with these social-media marketing tools? Which one(s) have you used, and which would you recommend to others?