By now, most companies understand the benefits of integrating social media into their marketing strategy (if you haven’t, get with the program!).  However, not every company has the budget for an entire team of socialites. Fortunately, there are tools that can minimize the chaos, without breaking the bank.

Social consistency is essential in promoting a clear, concise message to your target market.  If you aren’t employing a method of organizing your socialization, your campaign is at risk.  It’s easy to alienate consumers and businesses in your target market by sending mixed messages, or posting repeat content.  Not to fear though, social media management tools can help avoid pitfalls and help you listen in on what people are saying.

I personally prefer HootSuite.  It’s a Twitter-centric tool that allows for listening, publishing, and analytics.  Don’t worry, if Twitter isn’t your thing, yHootSuite Mentions Streamou can also use this software for Facebook, LinkedIn and other platforms.

If your social operations are small, the Pro version of the software is plenty. Unless you are running a social campaign for a Fortune 500 company, there’s no need to spend the money on the more expensive version.  With the right approach, this software can be highly beneficial. To help get you started, here are a few tips:

Become a Skilled Publisher

Design an editorial calendar that organizes social and blog posts for three months (or whatever works for you).  I prefer Excel for this. A calendar allows you to keep track of your posts.  Then, by incorporating Hootsuite, you can use the publishing feature to schedule posts days, weeks, or even months in advance.

As mentioned earlier, HootSuite is definitely more Twitter oriented, but you can schedule posts for LinkedIn, Facebook, blogs and other platforms as well.  You aren’t offered all of the same listening aspects with these platforms as you are with Twitter, but the publishing feature is still effective.

If your company’s social media person is out on vacation, they can schedule articles, photos, and other items to post on specific days and times as though they never left their desk.  But be sure to have someone in place to manage comments, as it’s very important not to forget about engaging your followers!

Speaking of Engaging

Set up streams to monitor conversations about you. Adjust settings to find out what level of “Klout” a follower has. Yes, I am aware that I spelled clout wrong.  Klout is actually a site that gives a rating to the influence social media users have. Use the sliding scale to adjust that Klout rating to filter each stream for the highest rated influencers that mentioned you. You can also filter these streams by keyword.  Once you have filtered the stream as necessary, get involved in the conversation. The more you get involved, the faster your profile grows.

Set up a Facebook stream as well.  From this stream you can set up sub-streams.  Take posts from your page that you want to follow, click on the comment field, and set up a stream that will allow you to view and respond to comments from people.

Monitor your streams daily.  You could go directly to the particular social page that you wish to check in on, but why be bothered with that when you can check, respond, and listen all in one place.

And Finally, Let’s Get Analytical

Utilize the reporting feature.  There is a free Twitter profile overview from which you can glean the following information:HootSuite Ow.ly Analytics Report

  • How many clicks the links that you published received
  • Where (geographically) those clicks are coming from
  • What influencers are saying about you
  • Top referrers (what sites are the links being clicked on the most)
  • And a list of the most popular links and how many times they have been clicked

When necessary, spend a few extra bucks to generate more in-depth reports.  The beauty is that you can pick and choose which stats you want to view.  Each stat receives a point rating and each point costs a certain amount.  Opt to view only the stats that are most important to you, so you can set your own pricing.

Final Words of Wisdom

HootSuite is not the only fighter in the ring.  There are a number of equally excellent choices that you can use to manage your social campaign.  That discussion, however, is for another day.

For now, try setting up a free account and playing around with the features I mentioned.  See if this is right for you.  It’s always best to use the software that you are most comfortable with.  If it turns out that the software you are most comfortable with is HootSuite, then these tips should start you along the path to a successful social media campaign.

Anthony Gaenzle – Director of Marketing

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