When it comes to social media management tools, the truth is, there is no best. Tools gain and lose popularity on a daily basis and although some have lasting power – they are a select few. The most relevant variables to consider when choosing a tool are the type of person using it and the purpose of its use.
But even the experts disagree on which tools to use. It is the disagreement that fuels the “tools” discussion repeatedly. No one can guarantee any tool will work perfectly for a small business, but learning from experienced users and spending time to find out what fits the business – is a winning combination.
Why use social media tools?
If the social media landscape is new, it is probably overwhelming. There are many different kinds of networks and ways to communicate through them.
But what often makes social media an intimidating choice is the amount of time it takes to operate them successfully. Owners are finding out they need much more than a few tweets or status updates to get the attention from their targeted audience. Let’s face it – managing social media is not easy.
Tools simplify the upkeep process and allow for more time to be spent actively engaging with the audience. They quantify the audience, their habits and activities and provide possible solutions to run the account more efficiently. Plus, they help put together nice content packages and save time by distributing them automatically.
Have you ever wondered what social media tools the big brands such as Windmill Networking, Bundle Post, Glyder and Cisco use to build communities and monitor engagement?
To get a range of tool advice, I spoke to a few trusted social media professionals with adequate amounts of experience and know-how. They manage their own social media profiles and the profiles of their clients and/or businesses with great success. All of them offer unique and thoughtful advice on which social media tools they use the most, and which they would recommend for small businesses.
Neal Schaffer of Windmill Networking
Neal Schaffer, President of Windmill Networking
“What tool do I use the most? I use the websites themselves: Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus, and Twitter (Twitter is the only one I recommend tools for). If you don’t use the websites directly, you get dinged from an optimization perspective (Facebook Edgerank), and might not post correctly.
Forget about the tools: Spend a minute or two a day to use each of the sites you are targeting as a user would. It will give you a much better understanding and make your marketing efforts there much more effective! (I love this tip!)
I mentioned that Twitter is a platform that you should use a tool for because it was developed to be a simple site, but opened it’s APIs up to allow thousands of 3rd party applications to be developed. The tool that I would use for Twitter (and although they can be used for other sites I recommend you only use them for Twitter) is a social media management dashboard. Most will recommend HootSuite, but I use Sprout Social. It allows you to manage social media conversations like an email inbox, and it allows me to be EXTREMELY efficient with my own social media management.”
Robert Caruso of Social Resolve LLC, maker of Bundle Post
Robert Caruso, CEO of Social Resolve LLC maker of Bundle Post
“For Bundle Post, Hootsuite best enables us to post and engage across the entire social graph, as well as collaborate as a team on sales and customer service opportunities seamlessly, making our company’s social media marketing very efficient and integrated.
I think many small business owners are frustrated with the lack of time they have to make social media marketing effective, therefore they do not share valuable content for their audience enough and are not having conversations and building relationships that get returns in the space. Bundle Post was developed for this purpose and handles social content so efficiently and effectively that you are freed up to have conversations and make your social media profitable.”
Blake Jamieson of Glyder
Blake Jamieson, Director of Social Media for Glyder
“I recommend the Glyder app to small businesses, especially for Facebook. Glyder is an iPhone app that helps users create visually engaging social content. With the click of one button, the content will be optimized for, and sent to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Email and SMS.
The app has pre-designed templates to help posts stand out visually. It also allows for embedded text so message keeps the original context, even if it gets shared virally. Glyder is currently in the invite-only beta stage, but invitations can be requested from the main site.”
Albert Qian of Cisco Systems
Albert Qian, Program Manager, Cisco Systems
“There are a lot of available tools presented everyday. I would suggest business owners start with a solid base with a good blogging platform where they can build a website and implement social media solutions such as links and social sharing icons. Without a good home site, business owners will find it hard pressed to create a solid social presence. I would recommend the WordPress platform for small business owners because of the plethora of plugins, abundance of themes and internally built SEO options that are great for both beginners and seasoned veterans.”
Being efficient with a social media strategy is not just about the tools used to optimize the performance. As the professional elaborated on, it is important to consider the user experience, provide valuable content, simplify the process and share content after a strong foundation is in place. Although tools assist in these processes, it is still the human functions that create a strong social media environment.