Want the Best Social Media Management Tool? Here’s How to Choose
Social media is fertile ground to engage potential customers and clients and solidify your brand. These days, having corporate accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and other networks seems to be the rule, not the exception. As a result, many services have popped up that propose to help online marketers harness social media to easily and effectively leverage their company’s social presence. Industry leaders include Hootsuite, Buffer, and Spredfast, but dozens of smaller players have entered the market with their own unique offerings. This list of the key features will help the savvy marketer make a strategic and lucrative decision when selecting a new social media management tool.
Whenever studying the offerings of each different social media management tool, it is important to have in mind what you’re willing to spend, and what the benefits are that you will gain from this added expense. Many social media management services, like Hootsuite and Buffer, offer a free version that allows you to assess that tool’s features. However, most companies require the full paid version to effectively manage their social media presence, so no free rides here. Prices vary dramatically, and if your company is new to social media or even just social media management, it’s likely wise to start off with a low-cost tool and trade up if you find it’s going well. That being said, you get what you pay for with these services, and features such as suggested sharing content are only available if you’re willing to grow your social media marketing budget.
It may seem like a no-brainer, but if your company’s online strategy is centered around your presence on a certain social media account, it’s probably important that your social media management tool be compatible with that network. However, unless your company is heavily involved with Google+, chances are you’re okay on this front. Virtually every major social media management tool is fully compatible with Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin. However, if your company generates lots of leads from YouTube traffic, it’s worth looking to see which tools are compatible with that network, since the most popular services don’t integrate with YouTube.
Some tools have varying levels of compatibility with different social networks. For example, while Klout is able to analyse engagement with your Instagram posts, you won’t be able to schedule any posts to this network. This represents a fairly limited level of integration with Instagram, and if your outreach is dependent on this network, you might look elsewhere for a social media management tool.
While some social media management tools are simply post-scheduling calendars, others offer advanced analysis features that help marketers to fully leverage their social properties. Analytics is perhaps one of the key reasons why Hootsuite is a leader in the industry, since its “listening” portals allow marketers to track the performance of different social media posts in real time. Since social media offers the unique opportunity to engage and interact with potential customers and clients, engagement data and analytics can be highly valuable information.
Post scheduling is perhaps every marketer’s favorite feature offered by social media management services. Instead of having to log on to the corporate Facebook account at the optimal time, (sometimes after-hours) the savvy marketer can simply schedule a post for any date, at any time in the future. In almost all cases, post scheduling should be a deal-breaker. Furthermore, services like Hootsuite allow marketers to compose posts for different social media outlets simultaneously. This significantly cuts down on the amount of time that you spend preparing social posts, but also means that your company will start to have the same voice across different social properties, which is not always appropriate. Most tweets simply have no place on LinkedIn.
As an added bonus, certain social media management tools will analyze post engagement and reach, and suggest optimal posting times. The clear leader in this field is Buffer. In fact, Buffer’s recommendation tool is so effective that some marketers use it in tandem with Hootsuite, despite the added cost and complexity of this approach.
A contentious topic in the world of social media marketing, reposting is nonetheless a key functionality of a social media management tool that many fail to offer. If your company generates lots of high-quality marketing content, chances are that you don’t want to run the risk of it being missed by your target audience. As a result, you would naturally want to increase each post’s exposure by reposting at different times. A social media management tool like Spredfast recognize this need and offer a simple tool to allow for repost scheduling, while services like Hootsuite and Hubspot’s social media offering do not make it easy. If your marketing function focuses mainly on very time-sensitive posts, then this should not be an issue for you, but otherwise, reposting can be a very useful capability.
What do you look for in a social media management tool? Let us know in the comments below!