A determined soul will do more with a rusty monkey wrench than a loafer will accomplish with all the tools in a machine shop. ~Robert Hughes
Hughes is right on the money. Sometimes I feel like we rely too heavily on tools and technologies to do the work for us, when the real truth about social media is that it's not a media. It's a human relationship. Like love, it takes time, passion, consistency and effort. That said, there are some standout tools that will allow you to get the most out of social media-while simplifying your life!
In our quest to provide the very best service to our clients, our agency has spent countless hours trying and testing every conceivable social media tool and technology. There are the good, the bad, the ugly and, well, the downright heinous! Here are 10 of the most effective (and cost-effective) tools and resources we've discovered:
- Hootsuite. This is at the top of the social engagement dashboards. The accompanying mobile app allows you to monitor social media from your phone, which you must do, since social media never sleeps. You need to know what people are saying, seven days a week, so that you can put out fires before they grow. Cost: Their Basic plan is free, yet ad supported. It includes 5 social profiles. Their Pro plan is just $5.99 with enhanced social analytics, unlimited social profiles, Google Analytics integration and more. http://hootsuite.com.
- Klout. The current gold standard for measuring online influence. If you want to know if someone truly has influence, Klout 'em. Keep your eye not so much on their overall Klout score, but on their "Net- work Influence" score. This is the influence of one's engaged audience, in other words, how influential their audience is and how much they actually listen to them. That's a "metric that matters!" Cost: Free. http://klout.com.
- Tweetreach. Remember: followers don't matter as much as "reach," which takes into account how engaged and influential your followers are. This simple tool allows you to calculate that reach in seconds. Cost: Free. "Tweetreach Pro" has a variety of plans ranging from $84/month to $899/month, based on number of reports and users. http://www.tweetreach.com/
- Facebook Insights. This provides a wealth of information about your Facebook community: everything from post quality to the demo- graphic information of your active fans (sorry, "likes"). Very robust. Cost: Free. http://facebook.com/insights.
- Chartbeat. I cannot say enough good things about this tool. It's a real-time dashboard that gives insights into how your website and online presence are driving your key business objectives. Cost: $9 to $149 based on the size of your website. http://chartbeat.com.
- YouTube Insight. It's hard to believe that these analytics are free. Just 10 years ago, you'd pay thousands of dollars a month to get this information. Learn who is watching your videos, where they live, how old they are, even how long they watch each video! Cost: Free. http://youtube.com/t/advertising_insight.
- Postling. "Get smarter, faster and better at social media in 5 minutes a day." Compelling value proposition-and one on which Postling delivers. For small businesses that are strapped for time, this tool offers a one-stop place for staying in contact with your customers and staying on top of what people are saying about your business. Cost: Free trial that moves to $1/month per social media account after 30 days. You'll pay $1 to save up to 10 hours a month. http://postling.com.
- Google Keyword Tool. If online marketing is important to driving your business, it is absolutely critical to understand how to use this tool. You simply enter trial keywords or a website name, and the Google Keyword Tool returns a list of related search counts and advertiser competition. For example, if you own a real estate company in San Francisco, you might type in "San Francisco real estate." As of today, there are 74,000 people entering that keyword string into Google-every month! Is your real estate company figuring into those results? You'd better be! Cost: Free. http://googlekeywordtool.com.
- PitchEngine. The "Social Media Release" is Press Release 2.0. It starts with the text release and adds multimedia content (photos, logos, videos and links) to allow people and journalists to share con- tent in their preferred way. PitchEngine makes is easy, efficient and cost-effective. http://pitchengine.com
- Manymoon. Our agency has used a variety of online collaboration tools, but none are as simple and easy to use as Manymoon. And the price is right; currently, it's free! http://manymoon.com.
I just finished the Ironman Triathlon World Championships last Saturday. Since I'm in that mode, I'll draw an athletic analogy here. My coach always says: "It's not the amount of hours you put in; it's what you put into those hours." Same applies to social media. Apply yourself to social media more effectively and efficiently. I truly hope these tools and resources help you!
Eric Harr is the Founder & President of Resonate Social Media, a leading, integrated social media agency in San Francisco. He is an award-winning TV host on CBS News and the best-selling author of the new book "The REAL TRUTH About Social Media: 8 Timeless Truths Uncovered & 8 Monumental Myths Revealed" available now in ebook or print edition.