3 Ways Social Media Marketing Can Help Grow Your Small Business

20 May

Since the beginning of the decade, social media has grown from a fringe marketing strategy to a core component of marketing in businesses of all sizes. This cost-effective marketing tool is perfect for small businesses. The financial investment is minimal, and if executed correctly, a social media campaign can help you grow your business. You will have to contribute some time to the process, but the results can make it well worth your while.

Social media can help you build your brand
One of the most effective and successful marketing tools is your brand. Having a clearly defined brand will help you build the rest of your marketing strategy, as it will help you build your message and communicate it to customers. According to a blog post titled, “Creating a Brand Strategy for Business Growth,” published by Southern Cross University, “The impact your brand strategy can have on your entire business is immense; a poorly-planned or confused brand strategy can have damaging flow-on effects across the larger business strategy.” Social media can help you communicate your brand consistently through many channels.

Social media can help create loyal customers
A popular component of social media is that it allows business owners to communicate with customers in real time. If an angry customer blasts your company on social media, you typically know about it instantly and you can begin repairing the relationship. Conversely, social media also serves as an excellent tool for happy customers to share your business with their own social network. Forbes advises, “Brand loyalty is incredibly important, and social media plays a key role in the success of your ability to build and sustain that brand loyalty. Staying engaged on social media can truly make all the difference.”

Social media builds relationships
Since social media allows you to interact with your customers, it can help you identify potential problems with your business. This honest feedback can help your company improve business operations, and thus, grow its customer base. Much like suggestion boxes and customer comment cards, social media gives customers a tool to communicate their opinions about the features of your products or services they would like you to improve.

People may be more likely to speak up through social media when they have a complaint. Your method by which you approach these complaints can help build a positive image in the minds of potential customers. Social media marketing channels are now a key component of most businesses and can serve as a cost-effective method of growing your company. Using these tools to build your brand and foster customer relationships can help you create more customers long-term.

New Study Shows How People Use Social Media to Grow and Promote Their Businesses

13 May

Social media is one of the most popular marketing channels existing today. Yet, some business and organization leaders have questioned how effective it is in reaching their marketing objectives. Is it worth the financial and human resources investment?

The newly released 2019 Social Media Marketing Industry Report from Social Media Examiner provides us with some insight on social media usage and behavior. The study surveyed more than 4,800 marketers with the goal of understanding how they’re using social media to grow and promote their businesses.

Increased exposure and traffic are the top social media marketing benefits for the past five years. Increased exposure grew to 93% from 87% in 2018 and increased traffic improved to 87% from 78% last year demonstrating that positive results are possible even in a crowded social media landscape.

The next two important increases:

  • Generated leads increased to 74% from 64%.
  • Improved sales rose to 72% from 53%.

Even though Facebook and Instagram are the top two platforms used by marketers, it’s worth noting that Instagram grew from 66% to 73% and Twitter fell from 62% to 59%.

Facebook is number one for both B2C and B2B marketers, however, when separating B2C and B2B responses, the number two spot for B2C is Instagram at 78% while B2B’s second spot is LinkedIn at 80%.

Overall, YouTube is still the number one video channel marketers prefer, with Facebook’s native videos coming in second. When the study separated B2C and B2B responses, B2C marketers use more Instagram stories and Facebook native video while B2B marketers use more LinkedIn native video.

Of the platforms marketers regularly use for social media ads, Facebook is way ahead of the other contenders. However, when separating B2C and B2B, the study shows that B2C marketers are more likely to use Facebook and Instagram ads while B2B marketers are using more LinkedIn ads.

As with many studies of this nature, I always question the ROI (return on investment) for marketing activities. Is social media marketing worth the financial and human resources investment?

Even though we see some ROI results in the first chart, “Benefits of social media marketing,” this next chart demonstrates how marketers need to uptheir measurement activities.

In response to the study’s question, “I am able to measure the return on investment (ROI) for my organic social media activities,” only 44% agreed they were able to measure their organic social activities. This is a challenge that has plagued marketers for years.

Social media marketing is a necessity in most marketing mixes today. Yet, the return on investment still eludes many of us.

4 Tools to Help Boost Your Social Media Marketing Productivity

6 May

For small business owners and , time is a precious commodity. The online world never sleeps, and in order to be successful. it’s essential to be on the ball, to as great an extent as humanly possible.

Trying to maintain high levels of productivity, while simultaneously juggling the tasks of creating and distributing content, developing your brand’s marketing campaign, promoting said brand across multiple channels, and setting your goals and objectives is no mean feat – and that’s just the beginning. If your business is on the larger side, you may also have the added complication of motivating staff and upholding your respective standards across the board.

Canva For Work

Quite possibly the most important duty of any social media manager is that of creating the content itself. Enter Canva for Work, an easy to use tool which will guide you through every step of the process.

Whether you’re a novice, or a seasoned veteran, Canva has a bit of everything – and it all works via a simple drag and drop system which enables you to create flashy graphics to show off your brand to your heart’s content. You can tinker with fonts, colors, sizes etc. You can also choose from one of Canva’s built-in templates, or create your masterpiece completely from scratch, if you’re feeling confident.

The capacity to establish a uniform style across all of your designs can really help to formalize your branding, while the eye-catching animation tools can help bring a certain sense of flair to proceedings.

You can take advantage of the generous 30-day free trial to ensure that this is the tool for you before making any commitments, but if you do decide to sign up, all of this and more can be yours for a respectable $9.95 per month.

Zoho Cliq

If you manage a workforce of any size, Zoho Cliq, a communication and collaboration tool for teams, is an excellent starting point for any social media manager.

Team communication is very much the order of the day here – the objective of Cliq is to enable your colleagues to communicate with each other easily and efficiently, with minimal fuss. The simple interface includes an instant messenger system – not unlike the gone but never forgotten MSN – where team members can discuss any ongoing strategies, updates or anything else in real time. The drag and drop system makes it easy to share files with each other, and the inclusion of emojis can helps to bring a more light-hearted touch to proceedings.

Another handy function of Cliq is that it comes with its own app, which will give you and your team 24/7 access, wherever you are. Admittedly you may not be thanked for asking them to talk shop outside of office hours, but in an ever-moving industry, that kind of flexibility truly can be the difference between failure and success. Add to that a fully searchable chat history, and completely unlimited storage, and it’s pretty handy all around.

There is a somewhat restrictive free version (mostly in terms of storage space), but if you’re looking to go the whole hog, there’s a tiered price structure, dependent on how many users you require.

Agorapulse

A one-stop shop for all of your social media needs, Agorapulse provides a comprehensive dashboard which simplifies the entire process for you.

Keeping everything under one banner can, in itself, be an incredibly effective way to boost productivity, and with all the features at your disposal here you should be all set.

One of the standout features of Agorapulse is the ability to monitor all the social media conversations related to your business. You can compile a report which shows you, at a glance, who’s talking about your brand (and what they’re saying about it), who your biggest repeat ambassadors are and every time you’re hashtagged. Another handy time-saving feature is the ability to schedule posts.

Agorapulse also features several team collaboration tools, enabling you to manage your social media as a team, and set up clear and effective social media workflows.

Agorapulse offers a tiered pricing structure, again dependent on how many people are going to be using it, as well as the number of social profiles required.

Cyfe

Particularly useful if your social media presence spans across multiple platforms, Cyfe brings everything together onto a single, easy to use dashboard.

Analytics are very much the key element of this one – Cyfe gives you the opportunity to track websites, SEO keywords and domains, amongst various other vital pieces of data. You can also keep tabs on your social media demographics, followers and brand mentions over a set period of time, to give you an idea of how you’re performing on the whole.

Cyfe also boasts a range of inbuilt widgets which enable you to pull data from existing services, such as Google, YouTube and Salesforce. With the ability to run every one of its many, many dashboards simultaneously you can transform your desktop into ‘Mission Control’, and ensure that you never miss a thing.

You can sign up to Cyfe for free, but if you’re looking to make the most of what it has to offer the premium version is a pretty good value for money. For $29 per month, you can access the full shebang, including unlimited dashboards and widgets, historical data over a 30-day span, a raft of custom themes, and the ability to schedule an unlimited number of posts to your social media accounts.

Conclusion

Being a social media manager is an often challenging, exhausting and thankless task. Do it the right way, however, and it can also be an extremely exciting one. Remember that you don’t have to go it alone – make use of the tools available to give you a head start and your brand, and business as a whole, is sure to reap optimal benefit.

Here’s why you need to make sure your email design is mobile-first

29 Apr

It should come as no surprise by now that if you’re designing emails with a mobile-first ethos and aesthetic, then you’re already late to the game. Nearly 56% of emails are now opened via a mobile device, which means we’ve been living in a mobile-first world for quite some time. The overhead associated with managing templates across devices, domains and brands could be onerous but thanks to responsive email design techniques, brands have numerous options for controlling the look and feel of their emails and minimizing the associated work to create a uniform brand experience across platforms and devices. This may all seem like old hat, but it’s worth reviewing how mobile has changed email and how it will continue to define our inbox experience moving forward.

Keep it small

Remember this number: 102. If your email is more than 102KB in size, then Gmail will clip your message when it arrives and asks the recipient to “download” the rest of it. Why are long emails a problem? Most people put their tracking pixel at the bottom of a message. If the whole message isn’t rendered, then you won’t register an open. Recipients are fickle and may deem a message that isn’t fully rendered from top to bottom as broken and simply delete or mark the email as spam. Mobile is all about portability and speed – messages that lack these two qualities (e.g., requiring the recipient to take an extra step) will be seen as flawed. Thus, keep your messages light and to the point.

One column to rule them all

Single column layouts are often the best and most expedient means of organizing your content and calls to action (CTA) for mobile devices. More than a single column will require recipients to pinch, squeeze and manipulate the email. When you consider how mobile content is consumed – on the go, commuting on a train or a bus, walking to lunch, etc. – making email easily scrollable with nothing more than a thumb swipe is the way to go and makes for longer potential engagement. Embrace one-handed navigation and the simplicity of single columns. If you do decide to use a two column layout, check out this example from Hautelook that uses oversized images in a staggered orientation. The key is that the images and CTAs are large throughout the message, making the two columns a playful back and forth between image and text.

Taps not clicks

This may be stating the obvious, but I don’t see a lot of mobile devices coming equipped with a mouse. Thankfully, we’ve come far since the first Handsprings and Palm Pilots that required a stylus for interacting with the screen. Today, Apple’s human design interface guidelines state 44 square pixels is the target while Android’s guidelines point to 48 as the magic number. The truth is somewhere in between. Whatever size you choose to make your buttons and CTAs, make sure they’re well padded and spaced so that mishaps don’t happen. Jamming a bunch of options next to each other without a little breathing room is certain to wind up causing recipient frustration when opening or tapping the wrong link.

Sometimes mobile is the only screen

The developing world often relies on mobile devices as the only connective tissue between recipients and the world wide web. In the developed world, we talk about second screen viewing, synching across devices, experiences and portability between devices, form factors, etc. In the developing world, the small screen is the primary means of accessing the internet. iOS devices tend to be too expensive for the developing world, so recipients are armed with a wide array of Android-enabled devices of varying quality and size.

If your business exists beyond the borders of the developed world, then researching and testing your content on these cheaper devices is critical to ensure your recipients are experiencing your brand and communications as you intended. The quality of rendering, connection and a screen, along with the ability to download larger emails, will all fluctuate depending on where and how your emails are received. Keeping your emails to 102KB should be strictly enforced for a tighter and smaller overall message size to take into account bandwidth and screens that may not be ideal for reading email.

Time and devices

This piece of advice is always worth repeating: make sure your emails follow the sun. Sending all of your emails to all of your recipients at 8 a.m. PST or EST means your international audience will either be woken up by a buzzing phone (a big faux pas in China) or the email will be at the bottom of their inbox when they finally awake and check their email. Segment and deploy your emails based on where your recipients are. Mobile is the primary means for sending and receiving emails in China, so it’s important for senders to be aware of things like Chinese time – even though it spans five time zones, the entire country functions on a single time zone pegged to Beijing. Therefore, senders need to consider these time zones.

Uniform experiences

Mobile email is the jumping-off point for a wide array of experiences. Pressing a button in an email can open a mobile website or an app. Whatever the intended outcome, make sure that the experience is uniform across your mobile properties. The expectation is that if I follow a link from an email on my mobile device, the ensuing content and presentation will be properly branded from start to finish.

Announce yourself

Mobile email list views in Apple Mail or other email clients make subject lines more or less equal in size and readability. Using no-reply or other email addresses that discourage recipients from replying to unsubscribe, or other forms of engagement, means that the list view seems hostile and unwelcoming. Choosing a friendly from that adequately conveys your brand and acts as an identifying, trustworthy marker in the inbox, promotes the kind of trust and authenticity that breeds greater engagement and improved inbox placement. Ultimately, you want to let the recipient know who is sending the message and, from the standpoint of a subject line, why they’re receiving this message.

The future is interactive

Google recently announced the general availability of AMP for email, and the internet is awash with excitement for the next step in email’s storied evolutionary history. AMP promises to create new unique experiences in the inbox, and other mailbox providers have announced future support for the technology. Currently, Gmail is the only place where recipients receiving AMP messages will have these new interactive experiences. The ability to create micro apps in the inbox means that email will have a much longer shelf life, not to mention a new focus for brands in the coming years. But this is yet another example of email becoming more optimized to match user expectations. The future is more than just mobile; it’s excitingly interactive.

How to Get Real Results from Your Social Media Marketing Efforts

22 Apr

When my agency receives inquiries from organizations, we first ask them about their goals for social media. Most tell us that their key goal is to increase sales. We then talk with them about the difference between a goal and an outcome – money is an outcome, not a goal. Experience has shown that a more realistic goal for organizations who want sales would be lead generation.

However, the approach to acquiring leads is something of a gray area.

I’ve advocated that social media success comes down to alignment. A company that wants to actualize results from social media marketing must align their efforts with the values of the business, and solidify their commitment to relationships.

Here’s an overview of how that process actually works.

The Social Media Funnel

If we built a marketing funnel for social media, it would look like the diagram below.

Too many businesses want to jump right to the leads, and bypass the other steps, but you audience will have no desire to download your eBook until they know who you are, and they like what they see. It’s the same “know, like, and trust” approach that’s become a key tenet of modern-day marketing.

Bottom line: Businesses are often focused on the wrong things, and improper focus leads to inaccurate measurement, and ineffective steps to correct it. As a result, the conclusion, often, is that social media doesn’t work.

The Importance of a Strategy and Relationship-Mindset

It’s vital to have a social media strategy which aligns with the organization’s values.

Most profitable businesses have values at the heart of their company, and it’s those values that empower their teams and drive their business growth. Yet, when I look at businesses that employ social media, it’s infrequent they emulate these values online, especially with customer service. If service is a value to your organization, you need to respond to your audience online.

The other caveat is that it’s not an overnight process. Social media marketing is relationship-building, and relationships take time.

When was the last time you built immediate trust? Did you give someone the key to your house upon meeting them at the dog park? Put Mom in a home before seeing the facility? Just because someone ‘liked’ your page, or accepted your LinkedIn request, that does not invite you to hound them to the sale.

Relationship marketing is a long game.

How to Fulfill and Measure the Social Media Funnel

You may be wondering how you can fulfill these objectives using social media – below I offer some examples that can help you determine goals for each objective, the measurables or Key Performance Metrics (KPI’s) associated with each goal, and content suggestions that have worked for our clients to achieve positive ROI.

Please keep in mind that these are general guidelines – each business will need to determine the most effective goals to fulfill these objectives, and measurement will vary by channel. Also, this is just a sample. There are dozens of goals you could set – and, some will overlap. For example, engagement such as post comments can also fulfill the awareness objective by resulting in higher reach and following.

Majority of SMBs doing SEO are in-housing

15 Apr

A majority of small businesses (SMBs) surveyed understand they should be doing SEO but only 36 percent have an SEO strategy in place and are actively pursuing it. That’s according to a survey of 529 small businesses, between 1 and 50+ employees conducted by The Manifest.

Beyond the 36 percent, the survey found another 23 percent planned to pursue SEO in 2019, and 15 percent said that they intended to in “2020 or later.” Whether these good intentions translate into action is another matter. A 2018 survey conducted by the same company found 44 percent of businesses spend time or money on SEO. However, that survey included respondents from larger enterprises (up to 500 employees).

Majority DIYing SEO. Most SMBs said they rely on in-house efforts for SEO (54 percent), although a substantial minority (42 percent) used SEO consultants and freelancers. Another 28 percent said they were using an SEO firm or agency. And 50 percent said they were using SEO software and tools. I assume the overlap is between those using an “SEO agency” and “SEO consultants.”

Nearly 80 percent of these SMBs were either “confident” or “very confident” in their self-assessed understanding of SEO best practices. However, the fact that the top SEO tactic mentioned was “social media marketing” casts some doubt on that finding.

Top SEO tactics among SMBs. The survey asked SMBs currently pursuing SEO, “What SEO activities does your company currently invest in?” Erroneously, “social media marketing” was on list of tactics and captured the highest response (63 percent). More than half of SMBs said a mobile-friendly website and keyword research/targeting are top SEO tactics:

  • Mobile-friendly website: 54%
  • Keyword research/targeting: 51%
  • Creating high-quality content: 48%
  • Local search optimization: 45%
  • On-site optimization: 40%
  • PPC advertising: 35%
  • Link-building: 28%
  • Voice search optimization: 21%

It’s interesting and somewhat surprising to note that 21 percent said they were doing “voice search optimization.” It’s not clear what that means to these businesses, however.

Methods for tracking SEO success. When asked how they tracked SEO success, these SMBs said “search traffic.” That was followed by “leads and conversions,” while only 4 percent said they didn’t track their efforts:

  • Web traffic from search engines: 25%
  • Leads and conversions: 19%
  • Number and quality of backlinks: 14%
  • Keyword rankings: 13%
  • Impressions: 13%
  • On-site engagement: 12%
  • I don’t track metrics for SEO: 4%

PPC advertising frequency. The survey also asked those doing PPC advertising about budgets and frequency. The largest single group (33 percent) spent between 10 and 30 percent of marketing budgets on PPC ads. The next largest group (24 percent) spent between 31 and 50 percent. The majority (82 percent) said they were doing PPC either “consistently” (45 percent) or “monthly” (37 percent).

Why we should care. The survey shows that while only a minority of SMB respondents are actively engaged in SEO, a substantial additional percentage recognize they should be doing it. That’s an opportunity for third-party marketing service providers and agencies that serve SMBs. But SEO doesn’t generally yield immediate results, which often makes its value difficult to prove and perceive for SMBs who tend to impatient and want immediate results.

Top 11 social media marketing tools for 2019

8 Apr

There are many social media marketing tools to improve your social presence. Which one is better for your business?

Social media marketing can help you improve your brand awareness, boost your engagement with your followers and even explore new opportunities with potential customers. However, it’s not easy to manage all social media platforms without the use of the right tools. There are many social media management tools to help you be more effective.

All the available options can make it hard for you to decide the right one for your business. We’ve compiled a list with 16 tools to give you an overview of some of the most popular options before you pick the best choice for your team.

Whether you’re currently using one of them or you’re looking to switch to a different one, this list with 10 social media marketing tools should be of help.

Hootsuite

Hootsuite helps you manage all your social accounts in one place. It is probably one of the most popular options in social media management and monitoring.

It allows you to publish and schedule your social media posts and you can also use it to monitor your mentions and the keywords that you want to track.

This way you can use the platform for all the stages of your content, from finding new ideas to publishing them and measuring their performance.

The paid plans allow you to integrate your boosting plans into the platform while you can even integrate hundreds of apps to make your social media marketing more effective.

It’s one of the most popular options among social media marketers and it’s also a good way to get started to social media marketing if you’re still getting to grips with it and all the tasks you need to complete throughout your week.

What you need to consider

There is a free version for those who want a very simple solution but it’s limiting the number of posts that you can schedule and the data that you’re seeing through analytics. If you want to give it a try, the free option lets you schedule up to 30 posts while you can link up to 3 social profiles.

The pricing plans depend on the features and the number of profiles and the users that you want to add. The bigger your team the higher the pricing. Some marketers don’t find Hootsuite’s UX appealing comparing to other tools while its advocates are focusing on its functionality and the features that you can have in just one platform.

The Professional plan at $19/month allows you to connect 10 social profiles for 1 user and it includes unlimited scheduling. If you want to involve 3 users, you will have to pay $99/month and you’ll be able to connect up to 20 profiles along with team message assignments, custom reports and exportable analytics.

A complaint that I’ve heard from fellow marketers about Hootsuite is that it hasn’t really changed its interface through the years and it can be overwhelming if you’re just getting started. This is not necessarily a bad thing if you can still get all the features that you need in one place, so the decision is yours!

Buffer

Buffer is a popular social media management platform that many brands use all over the world.

It’s probably the most popular option along with Hootsuite and they both have their own strengths and weaknesses.

Buffer is focusing on publishing and scheduling and this has been the main feature ever since the tool launched. The user experience is focusing on simplicity to ensure that you’re able to schedule and plan your content without having any problems.

The ability to load the posts in the ‘Queue’ help you load posts in your profiles without necessarily setting the time manually on all posts. This way you can automate your planning to ensure that you’re only picking your ideal times once through the Settings.

You can also reschedule your posts by looking at your Sent posts and picking the ones that can be loaded again to the Queue. The Buffer Chrome extension can also help you simplify the idea of curating content while you can even create quick images for your posts through their free tool, Pablo.

If you’re interested in monitoring the replies you can also sign up to Buffer Reply, which is currently an additional product for Buffer. Moreover, you can also sign up to get early access to their upcoming product focusing on analytics, Buffer Analyze.

What you need to consider

The free plan can help you get started to learn how to use the tool. However, it’s very limiting so if you’re thinking of scheduling more posts you might want to consider a paid plan. The free plan is currently let you connect up to 3 social profiles and you can schedule up to 10 posts. It’s similar to Hootsuite’s limits on the free plan, but it is limiting even more the number of posts that you can schedule (30 over 10). It also doesn’t give you access to analytics to start measuring your performance.

The cheapest option starts at $15/month and it lets you connect up to 8 social accounts for 1 user and schedule up to 100 posts. You are also able to access Post analytics to analyse the performance of your posts.

The Pro plan can be a great solution for small businesses that want to schedule their content and save time when planning ahead. You are even able to include Pinterest as an additional integration and load content to the Queue for up to 100 posts. You can also access the Content Inbox to follow up to 15 RSS feeds.

However, if you have more than one person in your social media team, you might want to consider the Business plan that let you connect 25+ profiles and invite 5/10/15 users to your dashboard. Moreover, the Business plan lets you schedule up to 2000 posts in advance and you are accessing enhanced Analytics and reports. The small business plan starts from $99/month with 25 profiles and 6 users and you can upgrade depending on your team’s needs.

Buffer’s biggest advantage is the simplicity and the UX that understands what social media managers really need. However, if you want to include the Reply feature to your tools, you will need to pay an additional amount per month, starting from $50/month.

Sprout Social

Sprout Social is another popular option among marketers for social media management. Its goal is to “deepen real connections with the people who love your brand”. The messaging is focusing on improving efficiency and communication through social media, both within your team but also with your supporters.

It is a complete social media management platform and it also provides a social CRM and an all-in-one social inbox to monitor all your messages. It can be really useful when working as a team and you’re involving social media customer service in your business.

You can publish, schedule and draft posts while you can also monitor and profiles and keywords to keep track of what’s important for your business.

Their support can also help you ensure that you’re making the most of the platform and it’s useful that their site can help you understand how to tailor the products to your needs (brand, agency, freelancer, etc)

What you need to consider

Sprout Social has many happy marketers using it. If you’re working as part of a team then you’ll certainly enjoy the collaboration features, the smart inbox and the ability to blend the social CRM with your scheduling and monitoring.

The pricing plans start from $99/month, which can be considered a bit more expensive compared to other social media platforms. This plan is limited to 5 social profiles so if you’re interested in adding more profiles and make the most of analytics, then you might benefit from the Professional plan starting at $149/month. Except for the features of the Standard plan, it also involves engagement and trends reporting, campaign planning and reporting and also reporting on your team’s productivity.

It is also offering the option to purchase your own add-ons, such as Amplification and Social Selling to improve your social media success as part of your own funnel.

All in all, Sprout Social goes beyond social media scheduling and it can help you streamline your social CRM more effectively.  It might be more expensive than other options, but it depends on the features and the tasks that you want to include in your social media marketing.

AgoraPulse

AgoraPulse is a social media management and CRM platform to help you improve your social presence. It promises to simplify social media publishing, monitoring, engagement and team collaboration. It is focusing on simplified social media publishing to help you improve the success of your social content. From content labelling to queues for evergreen posts, the goal is to be more effective either on your own or as part of a team.

It can also be a useful platform for social CRM, managing your inbox, the comments and messages that you’re receiving on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube and Instagram.

You can also manage the comments from your Facebook and Instagram ads, which makes it easier to monitor all comments in one place. It can also be a useful tool when trying to find new opportunities to build relationships through listening or even to find your brand’s best ambassadors.

What you need to consider

There is a free trial option and the Small plan starts from $44/month. It allows you to connect 3 profiles and 1 user while you’re having unlimited reporting, publishing, and mentoring. It can be a good option if you’re managing the social presence of a small business. However, if you want to bring your team together, access advanced sync of inbox monitoring and the option to monitor ad comments on Facebook and Instagram, then you might need the medium or large plans at $89 and $180/month respectively. The Medium plan lets you connect 10 social profiles and 3 users and the Large plan allows you to connect 25 profiles and 6 users. It is the most popular option, especially for medium-sized teams who want to make the most of the team workflow in their content by creating their own processes for drafts and approval. It

It is also useful to note that AgoraPulse doesn’t support Pinterest, in case you’re interested in having all social platforms in one dashboard.

ContentCal

ContentCal is a visual calendar that can simplify your social media content planning. Its simple and intuitive use makes it very appealing to marketers of all skills to ensure that they streamline their planning as much as possible. Except for the usual social media planning, it offers a useful visual overview of your posts across all platforms. The calendar plays a key role in this tool and it can include your posts from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

There is the option to create draft posts and the pinboard allows you to plan your ideas and drag them to the calendar when they are ready to go live.

It also features the option to auto-publish your posts to save time while you can collaborate as a team with user permissions and post approval.

What you need to consider

ContentCal is trying to meet everyone’s needs with their different pricing plans. There is a free plan for the social media enthusiasts who want to create their own basic version of a social media calendar to connect up to 4 social profiles while scheduling 50 posts per month.

For a freelancer who wants an improved use that is still affordable, there is the Pro version at $12/month that involves one calendar and up to four social profiles. It lets you schedule as many posts as you want and there is also a monthly calendar view and the function to search for your posts in the calendar. This plan also provides access to Analytics and a PDF export.

If you have two people managing a social media calendar, then the Company plan will be a good option. It starts at $39/month and it features 2 calendars and 2 users. You can also add more calendars and users at an additional cost. The different with the Pro plan is that you can now manage approval workflows, access comments to improve the collaboration within your team and use a professional video uploader. The premium plan at $80/month is still for 2 users and 2 calendars but it also features multi-calendar posting, sending Facebook posts to drafts, training and filtering of the Analytics.

If you want an even better option to save time with your social media posting, the AutoPilot plan at $399/month is taking care of the posting for you based on your needs and the type of content that you prefer. It’s an interesting option to avoid searching for content ideas simply to approve the suggestions that you’ll be receiving from the tool.

Zoho Social

Zoho Social can help you set up a smarter social media presence through a series of features that improve social scheduling, monitoring and measuring.

It allows you to schedule your posts in the times that your audience is most active by loading your posts to the SmartQ. You can re-schedule your content at the times of your choice while you can even create posts for a specific audience based on the timezone or the location.

You are also able to save time when scheduling your content by using the zShare Browser Extension to make the planning easier in the calendar.

When it comes to listening, you can organise your listening columns based on your needs to create your customised monitoring board. You can follow real-time updates and you can even turn your followers into leads by adding details to each contact. You can improve the CRM functionality by integrating the tool with Zoho’s CRM to make social media more effective for your brand.

You can also track your social performance through real-time analytics to focus on what matters. The reports can also be automated to receive them at the frequency of your choice. Collaboration can also be part of your reporting simply by sharing the stats within your team to hear their feedback and plan the next steps.

What you need to consider

Zoho Social is a useful social media platform that blends posting, monitoring and collaboration. Its integration with Zoho CRM and Zoho desk can make it part of a wider set of tools that can streamline your marketing and customer success to improve cross-team transparency.

If you want to try out the tool, there is a free plan with very limited functionality for 1 member and 1 brand that lets you publish content or use the zShare Browser Extension. It does not include content scheduling so it’s only a good option if you want to get the first exposure to Zoho’s platform. If you want to start scheduling your content, the Standard plan starts at $11/month for 2 members and 1 brand. You can publish, schedule, use the SmartQ for the best times and use the repeat posting. You also have access to Basic Analytics and you can create 5 monitoring columns. If you want to improve the tool’s efficiency, you might want to consider the Professional plan starting at $28/month. It lets you add 3 members and 1 brand and it involves bulk scheduling, custom audience targeting, 15 monitoring columns, advanced analytics and scheduled reports.

Both the Standard and the Professional plans can be integrated with Zoho Desk and Zoho CRM to turn your social media management into a team effort. If you’re using social media for customer service or lead generation, then these integrations might be really useful.

MavSocial

MavSocial can help you simplify your social media marketing and monitoring. It involves an easy-to-use campaign calendar to plan your posts in advance while you can even reschedule your most engaging posts. Except for scheduling, it also features monitoring for keywords, tracking your messages and comments across all networks and a digital library to organise your visual content.

An additional feature is the option to amplify your reach with boosted posts on Facebook, while you can even improve team collaboration by assigning roles for your colleagues and monitor the progress of each task.

It’s a combination of social media planning and a social CRM and it involves 6 popular social networks including WeChat for some of the plans.

What you need to consider

MavSocial can be a useful and cost-effective tool if you’re the only one managing social networks in your organisation. The first plan starts at $16/month for 1 user and 10 social profiles. This plan allows you to publish on 6 social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Tumblr, Instagram), it has unlimited publishing and it still lets you access your social inbox, repeat publishing and bulk uploading.

The next plan at $65/month is granting access to 3 users and up to 30 profiles and it also involves social listening and ad comment monitoring. This can be a useful plan for a small team that wants to blend social media planning and listening. If you’re part of a bigger team and want to make the most of collaboration, then you will need to pay $166/month for 5 users and up to 50 profiles. Except for all the previous features, you are also able to manage a post approval process, boost Facebook Ads and track usage permissions for UGC content.

Thus, it can be a great solution on a smaller budget, while it can still be useful at a larger budget if you want to involve team collaboration, monitoring and UGC curation in one dashboard.

Sendible

Sendible is aiming to centralise your social media management. It’s a powerful dashboard for businesses that want to make the most of social media marketing. It allows you to publish, schedule, monitor, measure, improve your social content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

The social publishing can be easy to use and the social inbox can help you keep track of all the messages and mentions that you need to monitor.

You can also analyse the best times to share content and you can create your own reports based on your needs and your business goals.

What you need to consider

Sendible’s most affordable plan starts at $33/month and it gives to one user unlimited scheduling and 12 services (interactions per channel). You can create up to 10 queues in this plan, recycle evergreen content, bulk schedule posts, monitor keywords and access your priority inbox with a one-hour sync. You also have access to basic reporting, which makes it a useful plan for someone who wants an affordable option for social media planning and monitoring.

The Small plan costs $113/month and it involves 3 users, 48 services and 6 customised reports. It also helps you improve your team collaboration with post approval process and social profile grouping, while you also have access to 200+ charts to include in your customised reports. The Medium plan is even more powerful and it costs $219/month for brands and agencies that want improved functionalities for their social media strategies. You can invite up to 7 users in this plan and enjoy up to 105 services with custom team workflows and up to 35 analytics reports. You can also have a Priority Inbox with a 30-minute sync, integration with Bitly pro, 70 queues and a scheduled report delivery.

Sendible seems to be a useful tool for brands and agencies that want to have one platform for different tasks as part of their social media marketing but it might be more expensive for those who seek a simpler solution.

Lightful

Lightful is the first social media management tool made for nonprofits and social enterprises.

It provides an affordable solution for charities and nonprofits who want to improve their social presence.

As with other social media tools, it is offering publishing and scheduling options, a visual preview of your posts and a calendar to plan your week or month ahead.

It also features all the upcoming Awareness Days to plan your content accordingly and it allows you to load content to the Approval Queue to improve the collaboration within your team.

There is also a StoryBuilder feature to help you improve your campaign planning with the use of templates to get you started when planning the story of your campaign.

Its intuitive user experience is aiming to encourage nonprofits to embrace the power of social media marketing without necessarily needing a big budget for it.

What you need to consider

There is a free plan that lets you connect up to 3 profiles (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) for 1 user. It is ideal if you’re just one person managing your organisation’s social accounts since you can still access the platform’s features scheduling up to 50 posts.

The Growth plan ($26/month) lets you connect up to 10 social profiles and 5 users and it is ideal for medium-sized organisations who want to improve collaboration efficiency in their and social media accounts. It is featuring an additional number of Stories in the Story Builder, the option to manage and approve your posts and enhanced access to post and page analytics.

If you’re a nonprofit exploring all your options, Lightful might be a more affordable option for adding multiple users and having an approval queue for your posts among all the other features.

The integration with Unsplash and GIPHY can also be useful when planning your visual content while the Story Builder templates can be handy if you’re just getting started with social media for your organisation.

Kenshoo Social

Kenshoo Social is a social marketing platform that can help both agencies and advertisers create more effective social media campaigns. It can help you simplify your social media advertising and your social media campaigns by focusing on ROI.

Kenshoo allows you to scale both your creative performance but also your analytical mindset to be able to prove the worth of your work to the rest of your team.

Its machine-learning and automation tools can make the social media planning easier while trying to create more engaging ads. You can also improve your engagement by building customised personas to manage multiple audiences across different channels. Your audience strategy can greatly benefit from this feature and it’s certainly good to have this feature when trying to understand your audience on every channel.

You can also improve your collaboration by streamlining the workflow in the way that it’s more effective for your team and your personalised needs.

What you need to consider

Kenshoo Social allows you to connect Facebook, Instagram, Snap, and Pinterest. It’s a more creative social media platform that can also help you improve your social ads through these channels.

The pricing is available upon request and they are also featuring some great case studies from different industries. Another advantage is Kenshoo’s experience with e-commerce and search products, especially if you want to bring together all these elements as part of your company.

It’s also worth mentioning that Kenshoo Social has also been awarded in our recent Marketing Technology Awards 2019 as Best Social Platform, which definitely gives it good social proof.

Tweetdeck

If you’re looking for a free scheduling tool for your Twitter profile then Tweetdeck should be one of the first tools to try out. It is built from Twitter to provide a free solution to Twitter scheduling. It allows you to plan your content, monitor your favorite hashtags and users and keep track of your mentions.

Tweetdeck’s interface may remind you of Hootsuite but in a simpler version that focuses on the key tasks of Twitter management and monitoring. It is ideal for someone who is just getting started on Twitter to understand how to use the platform. It can help you improve your Twitter marketing experience without necessarily paying a fee for it.

What you need to consider

There are many marketers who add Tweetdeck to their list of favorite tools. If you’re new to social media management and focus on Twitter then Tweetdeck can be useful for your business.

However, if you’re looking for additional flexibility and functionality, then you may have a look at one of the other suggestions that we’re mentioning in the post.

Overview

There are hundreds of social media tools that can help you improve your social strategy. Many of them share similar features but they all stand out with their unique user experience and how they can benefit your brand.

The ultimate choice of picking the right social media marketing tool for your business depends on your own needs. When it comes to picking a social media tool, here’s what you need to consider:

  • Key features: what are the features that you definitely need in a social media management platform? Are you focusing on scheduling? Do you need a monitoring dashboard? Will you need to integrate publishing with social CRM? Do you want to involve boosting posts?
  • Ease of use (UI and UX): not everyone is looking for a complicated platform. A good UX can play a key role in someone’s decision to pick one tool over the other. If you’re new to marketing technology, then this may be a very important factor for your final decision.
  • Budget: your budget will significantly affect your choice so make sure you align your budget expectations with the tools that you can find in this range.
  • Customer support: A good customer experience can make the learning curve of a new tool easier for your team. It can even make marketers loyal to one tool so always have a look at the support and training options when picking a tool.
  • Integrations: If you’re using many different tools, integrations can be vital for your social media management platform.

What’s your favorite social media marketing tool?