Savvy B2B marketers put significant effort into developing a professional, attractive, and highly functional website design—as the company’s website is often the first impression prospective buyers will get of the business and its offerings.
But that first impression may instead come from the company’s social media presence (and if not the first, very often the second). That fact alone shows the importance of building a solid social media as well as website presence.
Social media is actually even bigger than that, though. As Tim Hughes has written, ” Social media is a common thread across the whole of the enterprise and it’s time to treat it strategically.”
It impacts not only prospective customers’ brand impressions, but also customer service, recruiting, employee experience, even the company’s supply chain. It’s where current (or former) customers and employees can become raving fans—or bitter detractors.
Given the importance and impact of social media for B2C and B2B firms alike, it’s vital that companies:
- build a solid, consistent brand presence across social platforms;
- monitor and engage in brand and industry conversations;
- forge relationships with key industry influencers on each network;
- respond rapidly to customer questions and complaints;
- share insightful content from other sources; and
- promote the brand through creation and distribution of share-worthy content.
Here are seven categories of tools that will help companies optimize social media marketing efforts as well as assisting with employee advocacy, customer services, and other business functions.
Social Media Monitoring Tools
Other than creating branded social media profiles and pages, monitoring is the most basic function in social media marketing. What are people saying about your company / brand on social media sites? About your products and services? About your top executives? About key topics in your industry? Just as importantly, who is posting about these things?
Social media monitoring tools simplify the task of monitoring conversations about brands, product names, and keywords across social networks. All of these tools monitor updates on multiple social media sites in real time. Other common features include:
- competitive benchmarking;
- ability to identify top influencers and brand advocates;
- follower growth tracking;
- content / campaign performance measurement; and
Some of these tools also provide sentiment analysis plus the ability to respond to posts or schedule updates right from within the application.
There are dozens of social media monitoring tools to choose from. Among the most popular are Socialbakers, Netvibes, BrandWatch, Simply Measured, Mention, Sysomos, Brand24, Alianzo, and Union Metrics.
Social Media Management Tools
Although there is some overlap in functionality with the monitoring tools above, social media management tools are generally more action-oriented. They are more focused on engaging in social media conversations than simply tracking them.
Common features of these tools include:
- monitoring and management across multiple social networks;
- monitoring and management of multiple social media accounts on each network;
- ability to pre-schedule posts;
- tracking of keywords and brand mentions; and
- content performance reporting.
Specific social management applications offer additional functionality, such as:
- optimizing image sizes for each social network (Buffer);
- integration with CRM and customer service systems to automatically trigger help desk tickets or other responses (Social Studio);
- growing your social media following (Commun.it);
- curating content for industry posts (DrumUp);
- collaborating with team members (Sendible);
- encouraging employee advocacy (Oktopost);
- running social media quizzes, contests, and promotions (Agorapulse); and
- special functionality for marketing agencies, e.g., client approval workflow (Planable).
Social Network-Specific Tools
A key strength of the social media monitoring and management tools above is that they work across the different social networking platforms.
But sometimes you need deeper functionality within a particular social network in order to grow and manage your following, run a campaign, perform competitive analysis, access in-depth analytics, or do other tasks. That’s where these platform-specific tools can help.
Facebook Marketing Tools
As organic reach for brands on Facebook continues to decline, marketers will need to use more advertising—and creativity—to growth their presence and maintain engagement on the world’s largest social network. Fortunately, there are a number of Facebook-specific tools for marketing that can help, including:
- Static HTML and SocialSprinters for developing custom Facebook page tabs and apps;
- Heyo, Post Sticker, and TabSite for creating contests, sweepstakes, promotions, and campaigns;
- AdsEspresso for designing and optimizing Facebook ads;
- Fanpage Karma and LikeAlyzer for analyzing content performance and competitive benchmarking; and
- Chatfuel and MobileMonkey for building Facebook chatbots that can answer questions, engage with fans, schedule appointments, and collect leads.
Google+ Marketing Tools
Though Google+ sometimes gets less respect than other top social networks, it remains the 12th-largest social media site globally in terms of monthly active users—ahead of LinkedIn, and just behind Flickr and Tumblr. It’s the ninth-largest U.S.-based social network, and the seventh-most popular in the U.K..
Consequently, it’s attracted a modest but interesting set of vendors that have developed tools to help with various aspects of marketing on Google+. Among those tools are:
- Circloscope and CircleCount, which help manage your circles and following on Google+;
- Friends+Me, for scheduling posts on Google+ and cross-promoting them on other social networks;
- GPlusData, for analytics and reporting; and
- Do Share Chrome and Post Editor for Google+, Chrome browser extensions for sharing links and styling posts.
Pinterest and Instagram Marketing Tools
Driven by increasing use of mobile web access and interest in visual content, Instagram and Pinterest have grown into two of the largest social platforms. Both are ranked among the top five most popular social networking apps in the U.S..
With that growth has come expanded interest in developing marketing tools specifically for these platforms. This group includes:
- ViralWoot, which enables you to schedule, promote, and measure results from your posts on Pinterest;
- TailWind, which offers similar post scheduling and monitoring capabilities for both Pinterest and Instagram;
- ScheduGram and Viraltag, which provide tools for editing images before posting—plus ScheduGram lets you manage multiple Instagram accounts, while Viraltag works across multiple social networks; and
- Layout from Instagram, which makes it easy to combine multiple images into a single post.
Twitter Marketing Tools
While not the largest social network, Twitter’s format and tempo has helped it build a unique position as the best place to share breaking news. It’s also one of the top networks for driving blog traffic, and is the easiest place to build a large following.
It’s distinct role has helped it attract perhaps the largest number of third-party tools. Dozens of developers have built Twitter tools that help perform and automate a wide range of tasks. Noteworthy among them are:
- Follower growth and management tools like Tweepi, FollowerWonk, ManageFlitter, and TweetFull;
- Twitter monitoring and analytics tools such as twazzup, Twilert, and Retweet Rank;
- Multi-function Twitter tools (for tasks like monitoring, competitive benchmarking, and reporting) including TwitterCounter, Twitonomy, TweetReach, and Social Quant; and
- Special purpose tools to help with specific tasks, such as Tweriod for finding the best time to tweet, TweetChat for managing Twitter chats, TweetDeck for scheduling tweets across multiple Twitter accounts, RiteTag and Hashtagify.me for finding the best hashtags to use, Sentiment140 for tweet sentiment analysis, MentionMapp for finding connections between users, and Packtati.us for automatically bookmarking all the URLs you share on Twitter.
Social Media Campaign Builders and Ad Monitoring Tools
The six categories of tools above all relate primarily to organic social media marketing efforts: growing your following, building relationships with industry influencers, sharing content, and monitoring brand mentions and content performance.
But doing social media lead generation at scale requires the use of paid (advertising) campaigns. Among the most helpful tools creating campaigns and optimizing your results from paid social media spend are:
- Campaign design and management tools for lead generation: develop quizzes, contents, coupons, landing pages, and lead capture forms with tools like Audiense, Woobox, ShortStack, and Outgrow.
- Ad monitoring tools: Wonder where your competitors are running their online ads? Find using tools such as WhatRunsWhere or The Search Monitor.
- Special purpose campaign tools: Launch giveaway campaigns in minutes, without coding, using Rafflecopter. Run A/B tests of website offers with Optimizely. And connect social media accounts and ecommerce platforms to Google Analytics for unified analytics and reporting using SumAll.
Social media is a key distribution and promotion channel for content marketing, but also so much more. It enables you to engage with influencers, monitor the pulse of your industry, deliver and enhance customer service, discover remarkable content, and generate sales leads.
The seven categories of tools outlined above can help you accomplish all of these objectives more effectively.
This is the fifth post in the Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing Tools series.
#5: Seven Key Categories of Social Media Marketing Tools