If you're a small or medium sized business owner, chances are you have a social media account for your business. The truth is, though, running multiple social media accounts for a business can be time-consuming and arduous and make you question the value of social media marketing.
Fortunately, there are numerous tools available that help you streamline your social media strategy, target and reach the right audience, and align social media with your overall marketing strategy. Here are 3 social media tools that I think offer the most comprehensive and unique sets of features for helping small business owners get the most out of their social media strategy.
Hootsuite, the creation of Ryan Holmes, is pretty much a must-have for any business owner's social media strategy. Hootsuite acts as a hub for all social media accounts, allowing users to post updates on multiple social media accounts quickly and efficiently. The free version supports up to 5 social media accounts, and the paid versions allow unlimited social accounts, multiple users, and support.
All versions of Hootsuite offer analytics, although the paid versions are more robust. When you post links in Hootsuite you can shorten them with Hootsuite's proprietary "ow.ly" shortened links that also act as a tracking code. You can then measure how many people clicked the links in your social media posts and measure what succeeds and what doesn't when it comes to posting content on your social media accounts.
HubSpot Social Inbox
Okay, a quick disclaimer here: As of this writing, HubSpot Social Inbox is still a couple weeks away from launch, but as HubSpot partners we've known about Social Inbox for a couple months now, and you can trust us when we say it's going to be a pretty revolutionary tool that shines new light on the uses of social media as a functional part of your overall marketing strategy.
The general, maybe a little overdramatic version: Social Inbox does for social media what email did for the internet.
As a prerequisite, however, you must be a HubSpot customer to use this tool. The Social Inbox combines your list of contacts in HubSpot with your Twitter followers and notifications. When someone tweets your business Twitter handle, you can see if the person is a contact, a lead, or a customer. So when you respond, you can treat that person how they should be treated - whether they're a lead who's just on the verge of being sold on your product or service, or a valued customer who loves to buy from you.
For those of you who are skeptical about the value of social media, Social Inbox turns social media into a company-wide customer service, sales, marketing tool that shows the profitability of a good social media strategy.
Since its launch in 2008, Klout has been picking up steam as a free service that ranks individuals' and organizations' influence with an algorithm that takes into account the topics you discuss, how people react to you, and even the importance of your Wikipedia page and your ranking in search engine results. The resulting number between 1 and 100 is your Klout score - a number that is becoming more and more widely accepted as an indication of your influence on the social web.
Now Klout is making a push into the business world with the recent launch of its Klout for Business portal. With Klout for Business, you can track your most influential topics and see which topics you post about resonate most with your followers. It even makes suggestions on which social network to use more often, based on your performance.
These are just a few of the tools available to the social media savvy business owner, but the three mentioned here are game-changers that have made an impact on the way we use and think about social media.
Photo Credit: Hootesuite