Clients ask me all the time about tools. What tools I use, what tools they should use, and new tools they should check out. Every circumstance is different, but there are some tools I tend to recommend frequently. Today I'm going to share 9 of those tools. These are tools we use every day to help us create and share content, and to measure and optimize our social media activities. We use them almost every day. Most are free, some are fee-based, all are invaluable to our social media publishing, client support and analytics. I'll tell you a little about each tool, then tell you how we use it. These tools are definitely worth a look.
If This Then That (IFTTT)
If This Then That is a great, free, easy to use tool that allows you to configure Internet based rules that run when things happen in your Internet based apps and services. IFTTT supports integrates with over 100 services this point and is growing. For example, we use IFTTT to automate publishing links to our blog posts on social bookmarking sites. It's an awesome time saver. But it's not just for blogs. IFTTT can connect to a wide range of apps and services from iOS contacts, to Android Devices, to Craigslist, to your social media accounts. You can then configure the actions that will trigger a rule, and define what the rule should do. It's quick. It's simple. It works, and it saves you time. If IFTTT doesn't have the connections you're looking for, check out Zapier. It's a similar service with some different connections.
How we use it: To automate sharing URLs to blog posts and other social media content to social bookmark sites like Stumbleupon.
Snip.ly is an awesome link shortener that allows you to include a simple HTML banner and button with any content you share. You can include the banner and links with content you create, and content you curate. It's tasteful, unobtrusive, and can be customized any way you want. For example, when promoting your blog you can include a banner prompting the reader to subscribe to your blog, and provide a button that takes them right into the subscription interface. If you're curating content, you can include banners and buttons that link back to related content you've published. Of course, if you're running a campaign or an event, you can use Snip.ly to show banners and buttons that direct people to your landing pages or sign-up forms. Like other link shorteners, Snip.ly keeps tracks of analytics and conversions for you. It's awesome.
How we use it: As a link shortener to direct traffic back to our blog, landing pages, follow/subscription pages, and other social media accounts.
Google URL Builder
Google URL Builder is a free tool that allows you to add more information to URLs you're sharing. Those URLs can then be shortened in your favorite link shortener, and shared the way you share any URL. The extra information is then tracked in Google Analytics. What is this extra information? Once you add the URL of the content you're linking to, you can then add the following additional information:
- Campaign Source: This is usually the network you're publishing the URL on such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, your Website, etc.
- Campaign Medium: This is how you're distributing the link such as social media, email, and so forth.
- Campaign Term: This allows you to identify keywords.
- Campaign Content: Use this field to differentiate content within a campaign through some criteria you choose such as gender or demographics.
- Campaign Name: This is the name of the campaign the content is associated with.
Once the create and share the URLs, and people start clicking the links, you will see the information in your Google Analytics account. When you're looking at traffic, these terms will pop to the surface, clearly showing you the campaign information for your visitors. Google Analytics isn't tracking anything new, it just has more information to show you about the visitors it's already tracking. That saves a lot of time when reviewing analytics reports.
How we use it: To build links for the original content we create for easier tracking in Google Analytics.
SocialBro is an awesome, full featured Twitter analytics package that helps you analyze your followers, identify influencers, and improve your Twitter performance in all ways. You can use to it discover the best time to tweet for your audience, to search your current followers, to discoveri new potential followers, and find Twitter users in our local area. If you're looking to increase your followers, interaction, and reach, I suggest you give SocialBro a look.
How we use it: To optimize our Tweet times, increase reach, and grow our follower base. Basically to enhance all aspects of how we use Twitter.
Tagboard lets you search hashtags from Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, App.net, Google+, and Vine. It has two great features. First, when you search, it shows you all the content from all of those sources right in Tagbaord - all in one place. It shows trends, and sentiment information, and makes it super easy to browse posts. You can find content you're interested in, content to share, and spot emerging trends.
How we use it: We use it to quickly view content for the hashtags that are most relevant to us and our clients. We spot trends, and find new content.
Second, you can create your own Tagboards. If you're using hashtags right, you should be using them consistently with your content and posts. Hashtags you use might be related to your brand, product names, or marketing tag lines. Whatever they are, you can create your own Tagboards to display content with those hashtags. You can also feature content on your Tagboards. This lets other Tagboard users find your Tagboard and view your content.
How we use it: To showcase our content, and client content on industry specific tagboards.
When you're not using your own hashtags, how do you know what hashtags to use in your industry? Buzzsumo. Buzzsumo lets you perform searches on hashtags, keywords, and domains. It shows you who is sharing content, and how much it's shared on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+. You can even see the people who are sharing the content, and share the content yourself if you like. That's just the free version. Buzzsumo offers paid versions that offer alerts, exportable data, and reports.
How we use it: We use it for social selling activities for ourselves and our clients to find the best hashtags and keywords, and to find trending content to share with our audience.
Adding images to your social content increases clicks and sharing. Data shows this applies to pretty much all social networks. Adding images to blog post, articles, and tweets is something you should be doing. Shutterstock is a paid service that offers pay-as-you-go, monthly, or annual plans, as well as single or multi-user plans. Shutterstock's broad range of images and flexible download policies allow you to find the right images to fit your content and budget. Once you see the results, you might be hooked!
How we use it: We use Shutterstock to augment images we take for blog posts, SlideShares and infographics.
Simply Measured Free Analytics Reports
Simply Measured is a powerful, subscription-based social media analytics service with lots of great tools. The fee-based service can be on the pricier side for many, but Simply Measured also offers 12 free tools to analyze everything from Twitter followers to Facebook fan pages, to LinkedIn company pages. These tools can be a great place to start when you're looking to optimize your social media presence. It's also a good idea to run them periodically (like once a quarter) to see how things are changing.
How we use it: We periodically run reports for our clients to establish and baseline (initial state) report for their social media pages and website.
Zamzar is a great, and free, online image converter. You can use Zamzar to convert images to other formats like PDFs. For example, if you have a SlideShare account, SlideShare can also be used to publish things like images and infographics, but they need to be in PDF format. You can use Zamzar to convert them! If you need the ability to convert many images concurrently, or need online storage, you can sign up for a paid Zamzar account.
How we use it: To convert infographics to PDF format to upload to our SlideShare account.
If you have a tool you use regularly in your social media activities, please let me know what it is and how you use it in the comments. We're always looking for great ideas, good tools, and ways to save time.