Which Social Media Tools Should I Use?
There are literally 100's of social media tools out there. From expensive, sleek monitoring systems, to simple and free to use scheduling sites. So, when I am asked which ones I recommend, it can be a tough question to answer.
Much depends on the size of your business, and your overall marketing plan and systems. Larger organisations may need sophisticated, more expensive tools, and have the staff and resource to spend time and money on them. But what if you are a solo-preneur or author, and only have a small budget?
I have always been an advocate of keeping it simple. Before you automate the life out of every aspect of your social media management, ask yourself a couple of questions:
- Which part of using social media do you struggle with most? Is there a tool that will help you with that specific task?
- What do you spend most time doing? Is there a tool which will streamline this, and save you time?
Most small business owners I talk to are eager to find tools that will save them time and effort using social media, and which don't cost the earth. So which ones fit the bill?
Here are 9 which I think deserve consideration in your toolkit.
My Social Media Tool Shortlist
Hootsuite is an automatic choice, particularly if you are using Twitter and want to more easily organise and track the tweets from those you follow. The free version allows you to manage up to 3 social media accounts, so is perfect for most micro businesses and authorpreneurs on a budget.
It allows you to post content to a number of different social media platforms from the one spot. You can easily select your Facebook page, Twitter, a Facebook group, and then post the same content, with pictures or links, to each channel. You can also schedule your posts to an exact time and date, allowing you to stay visible even when you can't be there to post in real time.
Unlike Hootsuite, Buffer does not show you other people's content or allow you to monitor conversations. However, you can use Buffer to quickly send content into a queue, which will then stagger posting times throughout the day, according to specific schedules which you can set and vary. It will even give you suggestions for content, which you can simply move to your queue.
The free plan allows you to queue 10 posts at a time for each profile. For example, I use Buffer to send out tweets at 3 key times each day, so will fill up the queue with new content every 3 days. This saves considerable time in creating and scheduling tweets every day.
With Feedly, the most recent content from each blog or online content source you subscribe to is added each time you open up your dashboard. Fill it with the feeds of sites which will deliver articles which will be of interest to your ideal customer, then quickly sift through them and send them out to your chosen social networks, right from within the Feedly dashboard. It makes sure you see new content from all your sources, and provides a central place to read and share it from.
Do you know the best time to send out your tweets on Twitter? Tweriod will tell you! It will analyze your Twitter account and tell you when you will receive the most exposure for your tweets. It breaks it down into daily and hourly windows when you can expect the highest engagement with what you share. Used in conjunction with Buffer, it allows you to schedule your tweets to go out at the optimal time to get you most visibility and engagement.
This Twitter tool helps you filter who you follow, and clean up your account. The free version of ManageFlitter allows you to find out which accounts don't follow you back, so you can unfollow them. It also identifies inactive accounts and those who have never changed their profile photo – all indications of accounts which may not be worth following!
Whilst Tweepi has many of the features in common with other Twitter management tools, it makes my list because of its usefulness in building your Twitter account with other relevant accounts. Within the free version of Tweepi, you can access the ‘Follow Followers' feature. This allows you to follow new users, based on which Twitter users they are interested in. For example, if you know that another account has a similar customer base to your own, there is a good chance that their followers will also be interested in what you do. So, using ‘Follow Followers', you can quickly and easily follow the most active of these users, and build your account with a solid base of ideal customers.
Canva has single handedly transformed my ability to create images for posts and blogs. If you are a complete newbie to designing your own graphics, or are a technical disaster (like me!), you will love Canva's intuitive drag-and-drop interface. It has pre-set templates for all the social media images you will need: Facebook cover pictures; Twitter headers; Instagram posts; Facebook posts; Facebook ads…..and many more. No more searching the internet for the right pixel sizes – it's all there for you in Canva. Everything is free unless you choose to use something from Canva’s library of stock photos. With a little bit of practise, it will bring out a creative side you never knew you had!
Bitly allows you to easily save and share you favourite links from around the web. You simply paste your website page link into Bit.ly, and it will shorten it into a neater link. For example, www.lizm9.sg-host.com might turn into bit.ly/lm. You can even personalise that link, and track how many times it was shared and clicked on, from within the Bitly dashboard.
9. Facebook Graph Search
Not so much a tool as a feature of Facebook, Graph Search is still relatively unknown within the micro business population – especially outwith the US. But it offers a fantastic means of researching your customers' interests by looking for the common thread in all the data they share on Facebook. You can discover favourite topics shared by your business page fans – and then introduce those themes into your posts to boost engagement and appeal to your audience. It is available to all users of the English US version of Facebook. So, if you don't have it, simply change your personal language settings to English US.
Which Tools Do You Use?
There are SO many tools that could have made this list, and it has been difficult to whittle it down to my 9 favourites. What other tools do you use, and why would you recommend them?