It’s an expense when you don’t know what you’re doing and it’s an investment when you know the right way to do it.
There are plenty of social media management tools that are out there with more coming out on a daily basis. With each of these tools comes particular features, let’s look at three classifications for social media tools.
1) Publishing Platforms – These are tools that allow you to easily publish to across multiple social networks. These tools are widely popular for individuals as they have a very robust and free feature set that enhances the core features of Twitter. A couple of good examples: Hootsuite www.Hootsuite.com and Tweetdeck www.TweetDeck.com (recently acquired by Twitter)
2) Listening Tools – Platforms that allow your organization to set up alerts for when particular keywords that are important to you and your company are mentioned across the web. These are the tools that will scan not only social networks but community forums along with websites and blogs alerting you each time your company is mentioned or specific keywords of interest are mentioned. An example of a listening platform would be Radian6 www.Radian6.com Listening platforms are paid solutions.
3) Social media management systems (SMMS) – These platforms allow for you to create, manage and measure your social media presence for your company brand. SMMS is all about execution, giving brand managers and social marketers the ability to create socially engaging content for their fans to interact with and share across their respective networks. Companies like Shoutlet www.Shoutlet, Vitrue www.Vitrue.com and Context Optional www.ContextOptional.com (recently acquired by efficient frontier) are great examples of SMMS, these are paid solutions.
Major brands are using platforms to do everything from managing their entire social media team’s internal workflow process to building out custom landing pages and contests on Facebook. Each platform has its own set of unique features and benefits. Some are designed specifically for Facebook while others allow you to create content across all social networks and even back to your website. Platforms range in a yearly licensing price from 40k to six figures plus so it is important you have a good grasp on the core functionality of each platform before you dive in. In addition to their distinct features comes usability, how advanced must one be to effectively use the given platform. All are billed as being simplistic yet some require advanced knowledge of CSS to style any work done within the platform. Be sure you’re comfortable with the ease of use with each.
What are these tools really doing for me?
These tools should be purchased based around your social media goals and strategy; they are going to allow for you to take your social media presence to the next level. Does your company do weekly giveaways or use other methods to draw and engage fans? Consider utilizing a platform that allows you to easily create a contest to run where fans can simply enter their required information, enter, and share that they have just entered your contest across their social networks. Traditionally you have been driving people to a specific page on your website and asking them to enter there. Once they enter, you tell them thanks and have a nice day. You are missing an opportunity for that fan to share with his or her network that they have just entered a contest with your brand. After all you do want your brand or company seen by as many people don’t you? With the right social media management platform, you can do this quite easily.
This is the part where the light bulb above your head should go off…
This is just one example on how using the correct social media tools can help you market and build your brand socially. Be sure you do the proper due diligence in evaluating these technology platforms and make certain they work WITH your goals and what you are looking to achieve. Make this purchase an investment in your company and not an expense.