The Business Owner’s Social Media Toolkit

There is no denying the effectiveness of social media as a tool for building relationships with potential and existing customers, and raising awareness of your company online. However, establishing and maintaining an effective social presence for your firm requires you to be able to monitor and manage your online reputation and reach, and make effective use of the time that you spend on your social media efforts. To this end, here are a few of my favourite tools for streamlining social media business tasks and adding impact to your efforts in this area.

Hootsuite

Performing social media tasks can be very time consuming, particularly if you have multiple social media channels such as a Facebook page, a Twitter Account, and a Google+ profile. Hootsuite streamlines many of the tasks a typical startup business might wish to conduct via social media, allowing you to schedule messages to be sent across up to five networks in the free version, and more in the paid version. This means that you can write lots of status updates in one quick session, then have them automatically posted at strategic times in order to maximise visibility while minimising the effort involved.

It also allows you to see multiple streams of data on one screen, saving the need for opening up new tabs and browser windows, and logging into each service separately. For example, you could have your Facebook notifications, messages, and news feed sitting side-by-side with your Twitter interactions and news feed so you can see quickly if there is anything you need to respond to.

Another useful feature is the Hootlet, which automates the process of content sharing via social platforms, including the generation of a mini-URL and selecting an appropriately strategic time to post the links – handy if you have lots of pages to promote. All in all, Hootsuite is a marvellous way to cut down the time it takes to perform social media chores, while helping to make your approach more strategic.

Followerwonk

Twitter can be an immensely powerful tool for promoting your business, but it can often feel like you are shooting around in the dark. That’s where social media analytics can come in handy, and Followerwonk is one of the best of its kind.

It provides you with real-time social charting to help you find out deeper insights into your followers, such as who they are, where they are located, and when they are active on Twitter. It also enables you to search Twitter bios to find and connect with new influencers in your niche, and provides  you with visualisations that enable you to compare your social graphs against competitors, friends, and industry leaders.

Disqus

Building an open dialogue with your customers is one of the central thrusts of social media marketing, but the idea of giving the general public a free rein to write whatever they like on the comments page of your blog is enough to send shivers up the spine. This is where comment management services can be extremely useful, and of all the solutions available, Disqus is widely considered the best option at the time of writing.

The primary function of Disqus is to enable people to leave comments below your blog posts, and allow you (or your named moderators) to manage these comments. It integrates seamlessly with Blogger, Tumbrl, WordPress, Drupal, HTML and Javascript, and it is easy to migrate pre-existing comments onto the new system.

Disqus provides seamless interaction with blog authors and other blogs that use the same system – and quite a lot of them do. Discussions and sub-discussions can be easily tracked, and threaded comments are implemented in such a way as to encourage more comments. There is a lot of flexibility about how you can lay out the comments section, and moderators can be added quickly and easily. It also has a ‘discovery’ function where posts from other blogs can be displayed alongside the comments section, and you can earn extra revenue from the sales of those links on your blog.

Mention

It can be very useful to know when your company is being talked about online, as this enables you to respond positively to criticism, leverage positive feedback, and gauge the effectiveness of your social marketing efforts. Many people use Google Alerts for this, but concerns about the reliability of this service, and the fact that it doesn’t monitor mentions on social media sites, have led many to seek alternatives such as the free Social Mention Web app.

Mention is a more sophisticated implementation of this type of service, actively searching the Web and social media sites for your chosen keywords, and when a new mention is found, you can use it to assign follow-up to that activity or track the sentiment by marking it positive, negative, or neutral. But what makes this program stand out from the pack is the range of options for customising your searches, so that you can really hone in on what is important to your circumstances.

 

 

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