Captivating and engaging with audiences on social media is not a potential add on to your existing strategy, it's a critical component of your Inbound marketing success. But with all the social networks out there and all the different potential ways to interact, marketers and business owners are often overwhelmed by the time and creative investment required. Social media management systems have emerged as a solution to this, and today we'll be looking at how they can solve quite a few of your social media pains.
Let's start with the basics, and review what a social media management system actually is.
Some of the most popular social media management systems include HootSuite, Buffer, and Sprout Social. While each one of them touts different benefits and meets specific needs in unique ways, there are a few things they all have in common:
- Saving you time
- Centralizing your social efforts
- Providing great tools for listening and analyzing social conversations
Basically, a social media management tool works by allowing you to synch your social accounts (Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, YouTube, etc) all in one place, and manage your interactions in that platform.
Thus, rather than having to log in to Twitter to send a tweet, copy it to Facebook as a status, and head over to Instagram to share the image, you can manage all of those efforts from the same place. Even better, you can track how it performs within the same system.
Here at Master Inbound, we utilize HootSuite, so these scenarios will use screenshots from there. But, as mentioned above, each social management platform is going off the same idea of centralizing your efforts, so I'd advise you to check them all out and see which one best meets your goals.
Here are a handful of ways you can utilize a social media management tool to fulfill the three benefits listed above:
Scheduling MessagesIs it just me, or does it seem that some days just go by faster than others... and not in a good way? For business owners and busy marketers, there's not always a whole lot of time to dedicate to social media posting.
But we know that even when we're not on social media, our audience is. And our audience doesn't care if our schedule is packed, they want to see our accounts giving them a reason to follow!
To meet this challenge, social media management systems allow you to schedule out messages ahead of time. This is great for "evergreen" messaging and sharing content that can be relevant at any time.
For example, I frequently schedule Master Inbound tweets out days in advance to share relevant articles I find.
Here's what it looks like in HootSuite:
Optimizing content sharingIn addition to scheduling sharing into the future, social management software allows you to share content which is user friendly and optimized for engagement.
Going back to the image above, we see the "Auto Schedule" feature highlighted in yellow. Similar what one might manually do in FollowerWonk, this nifty tool tracks which of your posts get the most engagement, and schedules your sharing for those optimized times.
But that's not all! In addition to sending out Tweets and posts during time frames that get the most interaction from your followers, social media management systems also have built in link shorteners to foster a more user-friendly sharing experience.
Here's what a link will look like before and after shortening. You'll notice that the shrunken one is much easier to visually digest:
Analyzing conversationsWhen we're using social media to promote and offer (which should be a very small amount of our social participation!) we want to see what is and isn't working. Social media management systems simplify this process and allow you to dive pretty deep into the interactions yoru posts are earning.
HootSuite offers ow.ly analytics, which provide you with insights on which of your shortened links are driving clicks.
In the image below, you can see a report I pulled for Master Inbound's Twitter account, which shows me which links have driven the highest click rate. Naturally, your business could use this feature to drive social strategy and share the type of content which earns the highest engagement and conversion rates.
ListeningWe've been told over and over again that listening is critical to effective social participation. In fact, you're probably getting tired of hearing the mantra on repeat. But listening truly is an essential part of social media marketing, because it offers us access to the habits and wants of our prospects and customers, in their own words.
We all know listening is important, but the actual implementation stumps many. This is another way in which social media management software can really help.
Let's say you're a local pool repair business, and you're interested in finding out what people are saying in your area about pools. Within HootSuite, you can set a stream to track that precise discussion in a concentrated geographical area (25 kilometers is the default). Here's what it looks like:
And here's what the stream looks like:
Now, you can follow the local chatter about pools, and potentially take two actions with that information: 1) Jump into conversations where you can provide value and expertise (NOT shamelessly self promote) or 2) Track recurring topics, and begin creating and sharing content which answers frequently asked questions or addresses pain points.
Segmenting and structuring communicationThe more you build your social presence, the more conversations you'll have to manage. One of my favorite parts of utilizing a social management sytem for a business is the ability to assign messages within teams, which can considerably cut down time and confusion regarding social participation.
You could create teams for any array of classifications: Customer Service reps, Negative Feedback reps, Technical Service reps, etc.
This is great if you want specific people answering specific messages. For example, in the screenshot below, we got a great shout out for our program and I might want Luke to send a personal thank you. I can assign that Tweet to Luke, and include an additional note if necessary:
While each of these capabilities offers you great potential for saving time and tailoring your messaging to best meet the goals of your audience, there are a plethora of other benefits social media management systems can offer you. As you adopt an Inbound strategy and begin to allocate more time and effort toward social media, I strongly encourage you to consider utilizing a social management sytem. Many platforms offer free trial periods, which is a great way for you to test drive the software and see if it works for you!
Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/25301380@N02/3424642826