Social media platforms let you can create awareness about your store, reinforce a brand identity, target specific groups of customers, interact with them, deal with grievances, create incentives for loyalty and much more.
As your business grows you will find that managing several different social media accounts is no easy feat! You have to plan regular updates, upload and post albums, make sure you are prompt to respond to customers’ enquiries and complaints, and stay up to date with trending topics, hashtags, trends, and so on. The solution? Some pretty cool automation tools that help you manage or automate several different aspects of your social media life!
1) Hootsuite – A Comprehensive Social Media Dashboard
With Hootsuite you can manage your entire social media presence from one comprehensive dashboard – everything from Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn to, vimeo, stumble upon and slideshare, among many others. It has a very detailed dashboard which allows you up manage uploads, track conversations, receive notifications, respond to them and analyse your interactions.
Businesses love Hootsuite because an account can be assigned to a group of managers, and different tasks can be allotted to each. There is even a private messaging system which is great for team members to stay coordinated, especially when working remotely.
What’s hot? For starters, the sheer number of social media platforms available on Hootsuite! Besides, Hootsuite is a web-based application, so you don’t need to download an app to your computer, and can be accessed from any computer or mobile device.
What’s not? Many users feel like the interface is difficult to get the hang of, and isn’t exactly user friendly. Plus it doesn’t have a very comprehensive scheduling function and the enterprise version is extremely expensive.
How much does it cost? There is a basic free version, which is great for personal use. But if you want more than one user for an account you have to pay, starting with a base fee of about 8.9$ per month. For even more detailed data analytics you need the enterprise version, which can go all the way to $1500 per month.
2) Tweetdeck – Make the Most of Twitter
Tweetdeck offers tools similar to Hootsuite. But it really is more of a twitter management tool, than a comprehensive social media tool, though you can link and post to synced accounts on Facebook, Google+, etc.
You can access multiple twitter accounts from an app you can download to your computer. You to filter conversations based on hashtags, respond to particular comments, search for specific users or posts, etc.
What’s hot? Tweetdeck allows you to make almost real-time schedules; up-to just a minute in advance. (Which is much quicker than Hootsuite’s 15 minute time lag). Tweetdeck also allows you to play videos within the app, which is less tedious than opening them another browser. Plus, it has pretty advanced spam blocking filters.
What’s not? Tweetdeck requires Adobe Air to operate, which can be a problem with older operating systems or mobile devices. Another even bigger downside is that you cannot manage Facebook business or brand pages with Tweetdeck.
How much does it cost? Tweetdeck is completely free!
Pro tip – Hootsuite opens each different account in a different tab, while Tweetdeck allows you to view all activity in one screen, with different columns. Not that one is better than the other, but your choice will depend on whether you like to segment your Twitter activity or have a complete overview.
3) Buffer – Schedule your Posts Like a Pro
If you’re looking for a smart, efficient and easy way to plan and schedule social media posts across various channels, then this is a great tool for you. You can plan your uploads for an entire week. As the name suggests, this tool essentially buffers and staggers your social media activity.
What’s hot? When it comes to scheduling posts, there’s no tool better than Buffer. You can work out intricate posting strategies and really plan the details of what gets posted, where and at what time.
What’s not? While buffer is great to schedule, it isn’t ideal if you want to actually monitor conversations. It doesn’t show you other accounts or feeds on your dashboard, so you only see your end of the interaction.
How much does it cost? If you want to manage one Twitter, one Facebook page/account and one LinkedIn account, with 10 updates in all, then you can use Buffer for free. Any more and you’ll have to pay; at 10$/month you can have up to 12 accounts linked and unlimited posts.
Pro Tip – Quite a few smart social media agencies use a combination of Hootsuite and Buffer – Buffer to schedule posts and uploads; Hootsuite to monitor and respond to conversations!
4) IFTTT (If This Then That) – “Recipes” for Social Media Success
The name says it all! If you write a blog, you want it shared on twitter, if you post a picture on Instagram you want it to appear on your Facebook timeline, and so on. Social media is all about cross platform connectivity and no one does it better that IFTTT.
IFTT has a concept of “recipes”, which are essentially combinations of tasks which you can be automated. There are nearly 4000 such recipes for you to choose from, and if a combination you want doesn’t exist (which is unlikely), you can create it. Once you select and set your preference, IFTTT will automatically complete the task for you. It’s like setting off a chain reaction!
What’s hot? IFTTT is extremely user friendly and really makes it easy to automate mundane tasks of sharing information across platforms.
What’s not? Quite a few users report time-lags in posts appearing on different channels, so you can’t really keep a strict schedule if you use IFTTT. Besides, you can’t really use it for engagement with customers.
How much does it cost? IFTTT is completely free!
5) Social Oomph – Easy Email Updates
Just like Tweetdeck, Social Oomph was designed to optimize twitter use, but automates connections to Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media platforms.
What’s hot? There’s an interested tweet archive, which allows you to retweet or promote old posts. You’ll get a daily update via email, which allows you to monitor your life on social media! You can even email updates to your account which will be published or shared across platforms you choose.
What’s not? The free version only allows you to schedule your own tweets, but doesn’t allow you to see your feed, search through lists, filter posts, etc. The biggest let down though, is the lack of a mobile app!
How much does it cost? You can manage up to 5 twitter accounts free of charge, after which you have to upgrade to a paid account, which costs about $18 every two weeks.
Pro Tip – No matter what scheduling tool you use, make sure you don’t post the same thing across channels at the same time. It only annoys users! If you post a promotional poster on Facebook in the morning, schedule it to go up on twitter later in the day, and so on.
6) SproutSocial – Track Customers and Competitors
SproutSocial is one of the later entrants in the market, but has quite a fan following, mostly because of the well-designed dashboard where you can see analytics and trends. It even allows you to gauge your own influence or customer engagement, which is quite essential for businesses. SproutSocial has a pretty advanced scheduling function, which even allows you to post the same tweet at several different times, which you have to do manually in Hootsuite or Tweetdeck.
What’s hot? The ‘Conversation History’ function allows you to pull up all the past interactions you have had with a particular customer. It also lets you compare your statistics with that of a competitor! What’s also quite cool is that SproutSocial has a 24×7 customer care department which helps you deal with any technical issues.
What’s not? A big downside is that it supports only Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, which can be quite limiting for professional users.
How much does it cost? While the base pro cost for Hootsuite is $8.9, Social Sprout charges a hefty $39 per month.
In conclusion, you’ll find it’s quite hard to pick one best social media management tool. The key is to understand the pros and cons of each and see which suits your specific needs. Either way adopting one or a combination of these will make your social media life a whole lot easier!
This post was originally written by Salonee Gadgil for The Zepo Blog:The Ecommerce Blog for Small and Medium Enterprises.
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