As we get closer to 2015, I find it very safe to say that social media is here to stay, and for a long time at that. Social media has become the latest form of customer service, let alone the current generation's main form of communication. People feel more comfortable providing feedback about a product or service through their social sites than in person.
Companies avoiding social media are closing off a vaild form of communication and relationship building with their customers. That being said, there are well over 200 different social media sites and nobody can be expected to operate all of those in order to market their company.
The following are a few of the tools to help make your life easier and run multiple platforms out of one site. These tools mostly work with the front runners in social media (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Foursquare, YouTube, Tumblr, and Wordpress), as those are where the majority of consumers spend their time.
Hootsuite appears to be the front runner in online management tools. Along with its variety of social integrations, it also provides constant conversation tracking. This can be helpful to measure campaign results and see how the company is perceived by its market. In addition, it provides google analytics on your social sites and advanced message scheduling. This enables you to analyze results and prepare months of posts ahead of time. It even offers an auto schedule feature that designates a posting time based on the projected best time to post. With this feature you are able to maintain company posts during international times that may overlap with our sleep schedules.
Message scheduling can prove highly beneficial when it comes to time management. Knowing your company will be closed on certain holidays or would like to send out event pictures on a specific date allows you to pre-organize these posts in advance of their release date or time. This way you are not rushing last minute to put the post together or forget to inform your audience at all. The best practice with this is to stagger posts throughout the weeks allowing for last minute information or changes to schedules to be able to be posted in between those already planned.
Another social management site is Buffer. While similar to Hootsuite, it offers better scheduling flexibility by offering more specific times and patterns throughout the week. It does not however, offer quite as many social options or any conversation monitoring capabilities. Many companies opt into utilizing Hootsuite for conversation monitoring and Buffer for scheduling posts in order to get the best out of both sites.
Sprout Social has claimed quite a bit of attention. Its user interface is a lot cleaner and more organized. It provides many visual graphs displaying new fans and followers, messages, and lots of other social data. It primarily has plans in and under $100/month, so it isn’t too costly in terms of the beneficial data it provides. Sprout Social has many advocates in favor of its easier platform and interface allowing for the initial adoption of the website to be an easier transition.
Social Oomph provides rich analytical data and similar to Hootsuite offers a free version. A noticeable difference is that Social Oomph does not provide a live feed to monitor what others are discussing as well as offers no app. It does offer the upload of a Word document to schedule posts months in advance, which puts its ease a little over Hootsuite (they only allows CSV documents). Overall, Social Oomph proves to be a great option, but Hootsuite’s capabilities still seem to outnumber them.
Falcon has been the newest addition to the social media management top players, and definitely a company to watch. This Copenhagen based company has grown exponentially within the past few years taking on major players such as Pandora, Ikea, UNICEF, and Swarovski. Clients are already raving about their customer service, which makes personal phone calls to help you setup your account immediately after you sign up for their services.
Conversation monitoring, as well as moderating mentions are visually appealing and simple to understand. Their analytics are superb and rank up there with Sprout Social as far as detail and aesthetics. However, while Falcon seems to offer an excellent product, they will not release their prices. Prices are also said to be determined based on their number of customers, business units, and volume of messages.
In the end, it all comes down to costs. While Hootsuite does seem to be the best free option for most smaller businesses, the costs slowly get added in once you want additional team members or reports included. Since the main reasoning for getting these social media management tools is ease of mass media management as well as data collection, most businesses would be advised to invest in as much data as they can afford.
Cost is a huge factor and free will typically win out when marketing budgets are limited, but certain analytics or other things are more important to some companies than others. All in all, Hootsuite seems to offer the most capabilities with the best pricing options because it is the front runner in social media management; but if you’re looking for a specific piece of data, one of these others may prove better for you!
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