Do you have the right tools?
To streamline your approach, you'll need resources that work well with your business.
In this article I'll share the best tools to manage and optimize your social media marketing.
#1: Find Your Audience
Once you define your target audience(s), find the social media platforms they frequent online.
Here are tools you can use to find your audience across the web.
My favorite (and free) hidden gem is Followerwonk. Specific to Twitter, this tool allows users to search Twitter bios (or Twitter profiles) by keywords. It helps build influencer lists for engagement at a later time. So if you search “technology editor,” the tool will pick up any profiles mentioning this phrase in an easy-to-consume list for simple identification.
An influencer marketing platform, Traackr creates specific lists of influencers and their qualifications, based on the criterion put into the system—whether it's a region (New York) or topic (chocolate-lover).
This technology searches all public-facing channels and builds full online profiles for every influencer on the list ranked according to reach, resonance and relevance. In addition, you can identify how to best engage based on the influencer's content and social footprint.
Traackr's reporting system helps identify where to focus time and resources. It also has a “share of voice” listening feature, which captures influencers' content, brand and competitive mentions.
#2: Discover Relevant Content
Once you have your targeted platforms, uncover the types of content most interesting to your audience segments. Seek out, share and create content that's relevant to your audience.
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The following tools support a data-driven content strategy and can help you provide concrete direction to a copywriter for day-to-day content development.
SEMrush is known for paid search insights that help customers identify the phrases that a site ranks for. You can then take those keywords and put them in the copy on your site.
Google AdWords Tool
You can also use something like Google AdWords along with or instead of SEMrush for the same purpose.
Moz's Fresh Web Explorer
Moz’s Fresh Web Explorer tracks the most recent mentions of a keyword, providing insight into social buzz around a brand, topic or other key terms. Track links, chart mentions and monitor mentions over time. This tool is another excellent resource for content-building.
#3: Manage Workflow/Campaigns
No matter the size of your team, it's helpful to have a workflow system in place along with tools you can use to make sure all team members are on the same page.
In large organizations, or even in small businesses, when a senior-level employee or owner prefers to approve content developed by a writer, there are various ways to give permissions and create an approval process. Plus, many of these tools have additional features to give your campaigns that extra edge.
At its simplest (the free option), Hootsuite can be used to upload content and schedule posts in advance. If someone needs to approve content, they can simply login and approve, edit or remove content. Hootsuite also has an enterprise solution with additional social media content management features.
Kapost can support complex approval workflows, map specific content to a persona, support the development of complex campaigns and track the journey through a centralized calendar. It has three hyperfocused parts to its framework.
The “Alignment” product focuses on uniting diverse teams (people with varied opinions and goals) and stakeholders with a unified and understandable content operation. Their back-end content catalog makes for simplified referencing, too.
“Accountability,” just like it sounds, enables each individual to be held accountable for his or her role by meeting specific deadlines and assigning roles through a simple workflow interface.
“Insight” provides metrics that can literally inform content strategy by analyzing content performance across channels and the customer journey. This can be used to understand how a brand can connect with its customers in the most fitting way.
Spredfast is fantastic for planning, executing and measuring interactive social media experiences. Having merged with Mass Relevance earlier this year (the technology known for aggregating and displaying social in TV for shows like American Idol and X Factor), the platform boasts four core components.
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“Conversations” enable planning and organizing of campaigns, as well as the ability to manage in real time and understand social impact. This component also offers execution of targeted advertising.
“Experiences” enable content visualization to drive engagement through methods such as contests.
“Spark” provides a way to track topics and identify conversations a brand can engage in, while enabling collaboration through sharing of real-time content and ideas. This is a benefit when multiple marketers are in the mix.
“Intelligence” provides data on demand to uncover conversations that matter to a brand, while identifying volume and velocity.
Thismoment offers features similar to Spredfast, such as facilitation of engagement through methods like social mosaic walls, contest hubs and digital billboards. These are just some of the utilities this comprehensive cross-channel campaign tool offers.
“Social Shopping” gives credibility to products and brands based on user-generated content, creating a platform for new customers to explore products their friends have purchased and recommended.
“Event Sponsorships” tell an event story online through a visually stimulating interface, combining live streams, social feeds and even ad units.
Note: For businesses that need to reach new audiences in specific locations, don't count out the advertising and social management tools within websites from Facebook and Twitter to Foursquare and Yelp. Native advertising within the network itself can often be the simplest way to manage ad campaigns.
#4: Measure Results
Compile the results of your social media efforts at various points throughout your campaigns. That way you can adjust your social initiatives if necessary, and you can also constantly improve your engagement and outreach as you work toward your goals.
When you look to analyze and optimize your social media campaigns, there are two parts to examine: community growth and social listening. If you use the right tools, you can measure both.
Socialbakers provides a simple way to measure, compare and contrast various social data touch points, such as how your social community grew this month or how brand channels performed against the competition or industry-related organizations.
The site also features a listening platform, which allows for quick exports of conversations happening across social channels based on keywords. It also offers ad analytics management tools to benchmark social ad performance against competitors in a central location.
Radian6 is a widely known tool for social measurement, and is especially beneficial for its ability to plug into Salesforce (it's one of their marketing cloud products). If you use the Salesforce CRM, you can use it to track the customer journey across various touch points.
#5: Use Multi-Functional Tools
There are many tools in this crowded space that serve multiple purposes. Find the ones that best serve your needs.
NetBase and Sysomos
Among other features, NetBase and Sysomos can also provide insight into which sites' relevant conversations will support your channel strategy: how audiences are engaging in dialog, in what regions and during which specific time frames. This enables brands to make smarter decisions regarding what, how and when content is published.
The TrustRadius platform is valuable from a comparison standpoint. Plug in two similar platforms and review the results. Weighing a brand and business need against a tool's functionality can help discover the right platform. The site's user reviews will give you real examples of how the platforms you're exploring are used.
Note: If your company falls into a regulated industry such as finance, healthcare or spirits, in addition you'll need to consider compliance tools to abide by industry regulations. For example, if you're a financial advisor, FINRA and the SEC require you record social conversations taking place on brand and partner channels. Tools like Actiance, Erado and Hearsay Social can support this infrastructure and facilitate ongoing monitoring.
Once you have a goal in mind and an audience to target, use tools to increase your efficiency. They'll help maximize your time, while providing data that'll help you make the most of your social media campaigns. What you do with these tools (how they are used and how they'll drive awareness of your brand) is equally as important as the tools you choose.
What do you think? Which social media tools do you use to create, optimize and monitor your social media strategy? Do you use one or a variety of tools? Which one is most beneficial and why? Please share your thoughts and recommendations in the comments.
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