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 different between having time to make social media marketing work for your business or not.
Here are seven 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• If you blog for your business, Disqus (www.disqus.com) is a terrific plug-in 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.
• 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.
• 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. •