Social media these days is a lot more than just Facebook and Twitter, which is why businesses and organizations worldwide use assorted tools to measure its impact.
Consider the umbrella encompassing social media.
Aside from the aforementioned Facebook and Twitter, there’s Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google Plus+, Tumblr, Flickr, Vine and Snapchat, to name a few of the bigger ones. But social media may also include blogs, wikis, news sites, forums and message boards.
It’s a lot to track, which is why numerous social media management tools have been developed to monitor it.
Understanding Social Media Management Tools
Often known as social media management software (SMMS), it is “an application program or software suite module that facilitates an organization’s ability to successfully engage in social media across different communication channels. SMMS is used to monitor inbound and outbound conversations, document social marketing initiatives and evaluate the usefulness of a social media presence,” according to SearchCIO.
That software typically allows for the connection of multiple social media accounts, as well as the management, monitoring and analysis of social media. They may permit real-time or automated postings to multiple channels.
More advanced tools can even monitor online conversations as they relate to brand awareness and sentiment.
Let’s look at four popular social media management tools.
Buffer is a software application used for scheduling social media content. It also offers post analytics. It also powers iFame Media’s social media powerhouse and we’ve been pleased (no affiliation or advertising, just our experience).
“Think of Buffer like a virtual queue you can use to fill with content and then stagger posting times throughout the day. This lets you keep to a consistent social media schedule all week long,” according to a dashburst.com blog.
“Teams and agencies” pay $99, $199 or $399 monthly depending upon the number of social profiles desired – up to 2,000 posts may be scheduled per profile.
HubSpot touts how its software ties people into a contact base; for example, though a Twitter handle, a user can examine a person’s overall dealings with a company – things such as page views, the number of emails opened and even customer status. It also shows return on investment on your social media activity.
The company offers free trials for what it dubs as “Social Inbox,” while its basic, pro and enterprise plans cost $200, $800 and $2,400 month, respectively.
Perhaps the most popular social media tool for brand management, HootSuite is known for its ability to schedule updates and monitor conversation through both the web and mobile devices, dashburst.com said. It offers enhanced analytics, as well as Google analytics, Facebook insights integration and advanced messaging scheduling.
Pro and enterprise plans are available for businesses – the former with a 30-day free trial. It includes up to 50 social profiles, enhanced analytics reporting and bulk message scheduling; it costs $9.99 monthly per user.
Sprout Social touts its “Smart Inbox,” which funnels messages from all profiles into one stream that can be tagged and filtered as desired. Meantime, Twitter keywords, Instagram hashtags and Instagram locations can be monitored from that single inbox. Responses, measurement and collaboration also can occur from the inbox.
Free 30-day trials are offered, along with deluxe ($59 per user monthly), premium ($99) and team ($500), which allows for three users, the management of up to 30 profiles and custom branding.
While all these tools come at a cost, social media is an increasingly important way to positively interact with your customers and would-be clientele. If you’re not on top of the online discussion about your company, you risk losing potential sales, alienating existing customers and letting outsiders dictate your public image.
For a relatively small costs, the tools described above can save you time, offer increasingly valuable analytics and help keep your marketing plans on track.