Small business owners who are successful at marketing through social media often have help from a growing arsenal of time-saving tools and services that make it easier and more effective. Taking advantage of these tools can mean the difference between having time to make social media marketing work for your business or not.
Here are 12 of the most popular web-based services that are being used by small businesses to keep the time commitment in check, while leveraging the power of social media. Some have similar features so it’s best to try them out and see what works best for you before deciding which to use.
1) Shortstack (www.shortstack.com) is a service that helps businesses design a better looking Facebook page and customize it with such things as contests, forms, videos and more. The service is free for pages that have up to 2,000 “likes.” Beyond that, a tiered pricing system kicks in.
2) Buffer (www.bufferapp.com) is a great way to schedule your social media activity. The service lets you add posts and tweets to your “buffer” from anywhere and have them automatically distributed throughout the day. By keeping your buffer topped off with content, you can be assured of having a fresh social media presence for an entire week or more.
3) Postling (www.postling.com) was designed with small business users in mind and provides easy-to-use tools, alerts and insights that will help you get the most out of social media marketing. Postling lets you publish to all of the major social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, WordPress, Tumblr and Flickr and schedule your posts in advance. It also pulls comments from all of your social media sites into one place which saves a lot of time and effort for responding.
4) TweetDeck (www.tweetdeck.com), which is owned by Twitter, is a “dashboard” from which you can manage a variety of social media. It allows you to monitor and manage unlimited accounts, schedule tweets to suit your audience and filter content to focus on what matters to you the most.
5) HootSuite (www.hootsuite.com) is similar to TweetDeck and lets you manage all of your social media accounts on a single dashboard. This is a good solution if more than one person at your business posts to your social media accounts.
6) MediaFeedia (www.mediafeedia.com) is a free business tool for Facebook (only) that lets you manage multiple fan pages from one dashboard, schedule content, track messages and distribute deals through something called Mediafeedia Offers.
7) Sprout Social (www.sproutsocial.com) is a popular tool among small businesses to monitor what’s being said about you online, schedule and publish updates to your social media pages with one click, and track your efforts with various reports.
8) Pagelever (www.pagelever.com) is a highly affordable analytics tool that’s all about measuring your social media marketing results. It produces professional looking charts and graphs showing traffic, fans, users, comments and more, including some demographic data.
9) If you blog for your business, Disqus (www.disqus.com) is a terrific plugin for getting more marketing mileage out of reader comments. This takes the standard “comments” function that exists on most blogs and turns it into a social media machine that lets users sign in and comment via a variety of platforms, including Facebook and Twitter.
10) Constant Contact, a leader in email marketing, offers a service called NutshellMail (www.nutshellmail.com) that’s a social media lifesaver for business owners who prefer to receive updates via email. NutshellMail tracks what’s being said about your business in social media, packages it up in a “nutshell” and sends a summary email to you on whatever schedule you choose.
11) Crowdbooster (www.crowdbooster.com) is a handy way to keep track of your social media accounts and marketing efforts from a single dashboard. It will automatically post to Facebook and Twitter, keeps track of your “likes” and followers and tells you how often your content is being shared.
12) Shoutlet (www.shoutlet.com) is a do-it-yourself platform for managing social media marketing. But it’s a fairly sophisticated service, favored by many larger businesses as well. It offers a wide range of features, including sophisticated data capture, customer relationship management (CRM) and unlimited accounts.
Copyright © 2000-2012 BizBest® Media Corp. All Rights Reserved.
About the Author: Daniel Kehrer, Founder and Chief Content Officer of BizBest Media, is a senior-level leader in digital media, content development and online marketing with special expertise in startups, SMB, social media and generating traffic, engagement and leads. He holds an MBA from UCLA/Anderson and is a passionate entrepreneur (started 4 businesses), syndicated columnist, blogger, thought leader and author of 7 business and financial books.