Social media management tools for your business

Social media management tools

Managing your social media accounts may seem like an easy thing to do. A few posts here and a link or two there, and you are sorted. But when it involves the reputation of your business, it is best to manage it the same way as you would any other part of your company. There are many tools out there to help you post the right things at the right time, as well as monitor what works and what doesn’t. Here are a few of the best social media management tools currently available:

Hootsuite (http://www.hootsuite.com)

According to Hootsuite’s website, their software is used by many of the big names in business such as McDonald’s, Virgin and WWF. This social media platform tool focuses on managing your accounts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare, MySpace, Google+, WordPress and Mixi but provides an app directory for adding other platforms such as Youtube and Tumblr and more marketing-specific sites such as MailChimp.

Analytics is by far its most important function with it being customized to suit your specific needs. Hootsuite provides personalized reports that can be shared with any Hootsuite user that you add, not just your colleagues. One can view analytics in real-time which you can then download as a PDF to mail to relevant parties.

This tool is part of the Twitter Certified Analytics program and Google+ Page analytics is integrated into it. One can even check Ow.ly’s (a tool for shortening URLs) click statistics to see whether the URLs that you have shortened for posting are being clicked and by who. If you have a business page on Facebook you may be familiar with the Facebook Insights page which gives you a rundown of who talked about your posts, how viral it is and how far a post has reached. This page is also integrated with Hootsuite.

With this tool you can also recreate the teams you already have in your business by uploading their positions according to your existing organizational structure. From here on you can provide permissions to customer-facing team members who contribute to the social media network.

Strategies can be discussed between involved team members via internal conversations and one has publishing tools at your disposal where you can schedule message campaigns. One can monitor searches for relevant topics as well as your company name and filter them according to certain keywords and hashtags.

Hootsuite is free when you have five or less social media platforms to manage and the price then goes up to $9.99 a month when you want to be able to add an unlimited number of profiles.

Sproutsocial (http://www.sproutsocial.com)

Sproutsocial is one of the fastest growing social media platform tools and has garnered many rave reviews. A free trial of 30 days allows you to see what this tool can do and after your experiment you have the option of choosing between plans that range from $39.00 up to $99.00. The social media platforms catered for are Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Foursquare.

Adding new social media platforms are a breeze as you simply have to type in your username and password, and Sproutsocial will fetch information for that particular platform. For example, if you add your business’ Twitter account it will show you the messages you have sent and received, how many retweets you have had, your followers and who you followed, the percentage of female to male followers and follower age ranges.

Sproutsocial also produces an engagement report where you can see how many people mention your business a day, how much influence you have in the social media arena and how many links you have received to your site or account.

One can add Google Reader to your account as this will provide you with easy access to new content to post. Unfortunately, with the recent announcement that Google Reader will be shut down by the end of 2013 there will obviously have to be a change in this arrangement to include a different RSS reader. Sproutsocial is available for mobile and one can add a bookmarklet for quick reference to your statistics.

Business colleagues can be added to provide them with the power to manage accounts and have the same insights as you have into the social media statistics. Each new user can be given either an Admin or User status which will change what they are allowed to do on the account.

A note on a recent development. Sproutsocial has launched a site called MustBePresent (http://mustbepresent.com/) where companies are given the opportunity to see whether they respond well to fans and followers on their social media accounts – all for free. The score they obtain is then measured against those of competitors as well as the industry average.

Buffer (http://www.bufferapp.com)

Buffer is a tool that helps you post to your social media accounts in a quicker fashion as well as providing you with information to post. It allows you to schedule posts according to when you want to post them as well as access content from the web through RSS readers such as Feedly and Reeder.

Buffer is great for when you have a lot of great content to share but you do not want to overwhelm your followers with too much information so that they feel like they are being spammed. You can add up to 12 social media accounts (this includes Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and more) and you can add 2 users to your Buffer account that will have permissions to add or change posts.

It is, however, not a free service and will leave you $10.00 poorer every month, which is reasonable when you consider how valuable a good social media presence is.

SocialOomph (http://www.socialoomph.com)

SocialOomph is an online tool that helps users to enhance their productivity on social media platforms. Their main focus used to be Twitter but a few years back they broadened their scope to include other social networks. Unlike other social media platform management tools, SocialOomph allows you to set up multiple Twitter accounts for free but the other social networks are only included for a fee.

On the free account you receive features that allow you to schedule tweets, save and re-use drafts, track keywords, purge tweets as well as your DM inbox, view @Mentions and Retweets as well as make use of a URL shortening service.

If you sign up for the professional service you can add Facebook, LinkedIn and your company’s blog to the features to use. Other features include scheduled posting of photos and status updates on Facebook, automatic following of those that have followed you, automatic DMs sent to new followers, tweeting via email, an auto RSS to your blog, the filtering of spammy accounts and much more.

The only drawback to SocialOomph is that, despite having ventured into the arena of Facebook, LinkedIn and the like, most of the focus still shines on Twitter. This might be too restrictive for most businesses as having multiple social network accounts is inevitable these days. But if your business focuses more on the quick pace of Twitter, this platform tool is essential as it is simplified for ease of use.

Figuring out your EdgeRank

An “Edge” is what Facebook calls the process that happens when someone, for example, posts a status update and it then appears on a user’s personal newsfeed depending on its importance. Facebook predicts how interesting a certain post will be and then decides whether it is worthy of being viewed.

So, it stands to reason that if Facebook thinks a particular user will not find a post interesting, it will not show up in their newsfeed at all which means your information may very well get lost because of a low EdgeRank score.

There is unfortunately no tool that will help you see your EdgeRank score even though there are sites that claim to do so. But there certain things you can do in order to optimize your posts so that they have a greater probability of appearing in a user’s newsfeed. The best way to increase your Edgerank is to turn posts into questions that will urge readers to engage with your product and company. For example, if you are releasing a new product, ask readers what their favourite part of that product is or ask them to click “like” if they like your newest release.

Remember that the things you have to consider include time decay (the older a post is the least likely it will appear on a user’s newsfeed), edge weight (comments weigh more than likes) and the affinity score (how often you interact with someone will influence if you see their posts in your newsfeed).