Social media has become normal practice for many brands in recent years and it can be a hard task to find a brand that doesn’t have a social media presence. For many companies though, managing their social media pages can be challenging, especially if they lack the manpower in house to maximise these channels. Setting up a Facebook or Twitter page and simply leaving it there to rot is the same as building a website and never updating it. There’s no point in creating social media pages for your brand if you are not going to use them.
Why should you use social media channels for your brand
Well, the simple answer is because it gets you in front of your audience. Social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and to a lesser extent, Google+, offer brands, marketers and individuals something that many other channels simply cannot offer – the chance to interact and engage with your customers. In today’s fast paced business environment, where building and maintaining relationships is an ongoing battle, social media can play a real role in helping you maintain, build and improve the relationship you have with your customer.
Despite what many people may think, using social media channels effectively doesn’t mean sitting in front of your computer or on your phone and waiting for a tweet or a notification to come through. This is not a productive way to manage your time with social media pages. It is this time consuming stereotype that can also put individuals and brands off the idea of using social media marketing in their digital marketing strategy. I’ve heard all the excuses from “I don’t have the time to sit on Facebook all day” to “Our customers don’t use Twitter so we don’t need it”! My answer to questions like this is simple:
- Your customers are using social media and will continue to do so
- It doesn’t take all day to manage pages
- You’ll even learn something from the engagement you enjoy with your customers
So with this in mind, I’ve decided to put together a list of 7 free tools that all businesses, large or small, should be using to help them get the most from their social media channels.
Free tools to maximise your social media efforts:
Top of the list is Buffer, which is a free social media management tool that allows you to schedule your social media posts. Simply select the days and times that you wish to post to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and press the magic ‘Buffer’ button. This allows you to plan a whole day or week’s worth of social media activity in no time at all. This is a great way to ensure you maintain a regular presence on your social media channels. While Buffer does offer a paid version, their free service provides analytics to show you how many people clicked on your post or shared it. If you’re looking to save time with your social media efforts, then Buffer is a great place to start.
Bitly is a tool that allows you to shorten those long URL’s that just look nasty in social media posts. While Twitter now shortens URL’s, Bitly is a great way to have a consistent URL across all your social media profiles. It’s does much more than simply shorten URL links as it offers real time analytics and also allows you to bookmark your favourite websites and pages. Again, it will allow you to see which social media channels are the best for engagement, allowing you to plan future campaigns. And it’s free!
3. Social Crawlytics:
If you want to see how popular your website or blog or product pages are online, then Social Crawlytics is the tool for you. This is a free tool (you get reports using credits) that uses a simple 3 step process to provide you with a breakdown of the number of social shares your site has enjoyed. Have you ever wanted to know how popular your last blog post was or how many times that great infographic was shared? Well, Social Crawlytics will allow you to do this. Simply input your website details, set your schedule, provide your email, and wait for the report to run. Reports for larger websites can take a little longer to run but it’s worth it when you get an insight into the type of content visitors share from your site and also which social media channels your content is shared on most often.
Feedly works in the same way as an RSS feed, allowing you to get updates of new content from your favourite websites as and when they are posted. Why do you need this I hear you say? Well, tools like Feedly allow you to keep up to date with the latest news in your industry and enable you to follow those blogs and websites of your industry influencers, providing you with stories and content that you can share on your own social media channels. Social media for brands isn’t all about self promotion and telling your customers how wonderful you and your product are. You should also be sharing relevant content and stories that your customers will want to read. Feedly is just one of many free tools on the market that allow you to do this and it’s on the list because it’s one that is easy to use, and a tool I use religiously every day. It helps me keep up to date with what is happening, and it will do the same for you.
Another question I often hear from clients and various organisations is “how do I know who to follow on Twitter”? Following the right people on Twitter can work in a similar way to the previously mentioned Feedly. It can help you keep up to date with the latest news in your industry and present you with the opportunity to find those key influencers from your industry who are on Twitter. These are people who you will want to interact with and try to leverage their Twitter following, and the easiest way to do this is to use Followerwonk. The image below shows how I have searched for key influencers in the world of Digital Marketing by searching for the keywords “Digital Marketing” in Twitter bios. A series of ranking factors including tweets, followers, following and social authority will allow you to select the most relevant accounts to follow.
Another tool that I use every day and is a great way to keep an eye on what is happening on Twitter is Tweetdeck. Tweetdeck monitors the interactions of your Twitter page and also allows you to schedule posts to Twitter (a bit like Buffer). The main benefit of using a tool like Tweetdeck is that it allows you to create a number of columns, for things like trending topics, notifications or my favourite – custom searches. Do you want to monitor what your customers are saying about you on Twitter or how they are talking about your brand? Tweetdeck will allow you to do this and help you stay on top of any negative tweets that may just be around the corner.
7. Google Analytics:
The last tool on my list is Google Analytics. While this may seem as a bit of a surprise because it isn’t a social media tool as such, Google Analytics is something every business should be using when it comes to understanding the performance of your website. Social media pages can act as a key driver of traffic to websites, and it’s important to understand which social media channels are driving traffic and more importantly conversions to your website. Social media management tools like Buffer and Bitly will also provide you with some analytics and for those of you really keen to find out how your social pages are performing, don’t forget to use your Facebook Insights as this can provide some great information on the type of post that works best and the time of day your customers are online using Facebook.
So there you have it, 7 free tools that will help you get off to the perfect start and really maximise your social media pages. Don’t just set up social media pages because it’s something everyone else is doing. It needs to be something that has a place in your digital marketing strategy.
Are there any tools that you use everyday that didn’t make it on to my list? Let me know your favourite social media tools by leaving a comment below.