It’s a crazy and exciting world in social media land. Whether you’re focusing your efforts primarily on Facebook or dipping your toes into the buzzing and fast moving world of Twitter, it’s important to be listening for your brand everywhere while engaging on the primary networks that are part of your social media strategy. Simple, right? Ha!
In a magical world, full of puppies, dark chocolate sea salt everything and endless pizza buffets (ok, so maybe that’s my dreamland), people have endless free time to manage social media for their brand. But this is the real world. And in the real world, people are busy, oftentimes wearing lots of different hats. I’m talking to you, brand marketing directors and communications managers.
Enter: social media management tools — tools that can make your job easier. Except there are so many out there that choosing the right ones can be as overwhelming as the management task at hand. Fight the urge to try everything at once, and start by adding some of these tried and true solutions to your toolbox to save time – and maybe even your sanity.
All-In-One Management Platforms
Hootsuite (Free + Paid Options)
An oldie but goodie, Hootsuite is an all-in-one publishing, listening, measurement and content discovery tool. It’s the perfect starting point for social media management. This tool can do the basics – monitor brand mentions, schedule posts, post to several platforms at once – and a lot more if you need it to. The thing I really love about Hootsuite is that it is constantly adding new features, evolving with the changing needs of the social media space. That means fewer standalone tools for you to manage (and remember to use). If you’ve ever used Tweetdeck for Twitter, the user interface is similar – structured in customizable columns. The analytics feature is also quite robust.
SproutSocial (Paid Only)
Built with teams in mind, I like to think of SproutSocial as a more polished, corporate version of Hootsuite. While Hootsuite requires a little more set up for brand listening and other uses, SproutSocial was built to take some of the guesswork out of configuration making it easier to set up “out of the box.” This tool streamlines common social media best practices with several well thought out features. For example, doing more of what works: When a user is reviewing previous posts to see which ones received the most engagement, they can choose to repost top performers with a single click. SproutSocial also has some strong collaboration and customer service response features meaning it’s a great fit for teams that need to work quickly on the fly to respond to questions, concerns and issues posed by the social community.
Facebook Page Insights (Free)
When it comes to Facebook, you should really be conducting the bulk of your posting and engagement activities on platform. If you auto-post from third-party platforms (like Hootsuite and SproutSocial), Facebook will know – and will nail you for it by not showing your content to fans. Stick to Facebook for listening, engaging and measuring. Facebook’s Page Insights is a great tool that can do a lot more than just tell you how your posts are performing. Check the Posts section to see when your fans are online and plan to post your content around those times. Use Facebook’s built in scheduling feature if you want to queue posts up ahead of time. Keep an eye on what’s working for your competitors and brainstorm post ideas with the Top Posts from Pages You Watch section. Facebook has added so many features to help with social media management, I could write an entire post about it. Maybe another time.
While all-in-one management platforms are the best, most streamlined option, there are a few tools that stand on their own – perhaps to be pulled from the virtual toolbox every so often.
Who you’re following is as important as who follows you. This is a Twitter tool that makes it easy to clean up and declutter who you follow. After you’ve cut out the accounts that may not be relevant, useful or active, you can also use it to find new, relevant people to follow.
While the platforms I’ve recommended include a similar tool, I don’t want to forget to mention this one because it works really well. Buffer is a social media queue that lets you save content on the go to be published automatically on a schedule that you set. There’s also a content discovery feature that I’ve found helpful.
This one’s a little bit old school, but it’s a great, no frills tool for listening. Set up alerts for results or mentions around your brand and industry to receive daily or weekly emails when new mentions pop up anywhere on the web.
As social media managers, we’re really lucky to have so many great tools at our fingertips, with new ones springing up all the time. And it’s fun to test and try what’s out there. Just remember to focus on a core set that helps to streamline your workflow. If a tool doesn’t immediately show its value, it may just be adding clutter to your inbox. Toss it. Another one (or ten) will come along.