How to Choose a Social Media Management Tool
Social media management and monitoring aren't just about posting and replying, social media is a growing, deeper science.
Companies don't drive leads or make money by curating three relevant posts a week - if they did, we wouldn't be writing this blog. If you're a social media specialist or marketing manager, your job description is much more robust than simply posting and replying on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You've probably worked with your team to deliver a social media strategy to increase followers, drive engagement and develop a strong interest in your service or product, and part of that strategy should also include selecting the best social media management tool.
Whether you're part of a team or working solo, a powerful social media tool can help drive results by boosting your productivity. In this post we'll explain what features are important and how to make the most of your tool.
Where to Start
Our best advice is to be selective when searching for the best tool - there are plenty to choose from but it's important to choose a tool that makes sense for your needs.
There are several key features that should be included in all social media management tools.
Social Media Monitoring and Listening
Social listening enables social media specialists to track and review the social buzz around your brand, industry or competition. By listening in, you can look for trends in moods and behaviors while also looking for opportunities to promote your product.
Analytics and Reporting
Your social media tool should enable you to export reports on the data that has been collected.
Look for quick reporting and analytics to share with your team or clients. Use reporting to make intelligent, informed decisions about your social media strategy.
Social engagement is key to successful relationships with your followers and potential customers. A great social media tool should make it easy for you to identify opportunities and to respond quickly.
Social Channel Integration
At the least, your social media management tool should enabe you to integrate with the major social networks including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram as well as updates from the news.
Social Post Scheduling
Social post scheduling is a must-have. Scheduling posts ahead of time can help you focus on engagement and creative content generation, instead of manual posting.
Alerts may be helpful in the instance of an emergency or a sudden influx of mentions. Being notified of events like this will certainly help your team to respond and resolve customer service issues promptly.
How to Pick Your Social Media Management Tool
Here are a few examples that may help you consider what tools/features make the most sense for your social media needs.
Imagine you're an independent social media specialist in the US. You have three clients that pay to have your help with content creation, social media marketing and management. One of your clients has built an incredible service that's gaining popularity in the US but also in Germany. You're now challenged to keep up with local American competition and German companies in the same competitive space.
It seems like this consultant's top need-to-have features in a social media management tool are:
- Social post scheduling
- Competitive brand listening
- Multi-lingual support
How about another example?
Let's pretend you're part of a travel company focused on fitness retreats. Your team's looking for fitness influencers to test out and promote your trips. You're going to need to know who's writing about fitness and travel and what hashtags they're using. It's also important for you to be able to attach images to all of your social media posts. You're doing some testing regarding seasonality of your content marketing, so you want to easily compare your previous campaigns and generate reports to share with your team.
Top features this company might look for in a social media software are:
- Identify and follow influencers
- Hashtag and author analysis
- Social media post scheduling with media
- Social media analytics and reporting
Using Key Tool Features
Use features such as social media monitoring to improve your social media marketing strategy. Listen to other brands, as well as to the buzz relating to your industry product.
Analyze the hashtags and popular influencers to help guide decisions about content and promotion. Look for tools that include the ability to analyze this data across multiple platform sources and in different languages.
Automation is also becoming a key component of social media management. We believe that live engagement and posting is important, but scheduled posts make sharing already curated content and material easy.
How Much Should You Spend
The cost of social media management tools is ultimately dependent on the features you're looking for and the size of your team.
Most tools have a free version with limited features for a small number of users - you can expect to spend $10-$50/month for most small team tools. Larger teams needing more robust solutions can expect to pay a few hundred a month.
Another feature to consider when comparing pricing plans is the amount of technical support you'll receive.
How to Find the Best Tools
There are hundreds of social media tools out there, and as the science of social media continues to evolve, so too will the tools.
Follow Scott Sims on Twitter