You can’t go anywhere these days without hearing all about social media. Whether it’s tools (Facebook newsfeeds, Instagram Ads or Twitter’s top-trending hashtags) or experts (Hubspot, KISSmetrics or CoSchedule), businesses small and large are making use of these great advertising and communication channels. But if you read any blogs or newsletters on this subject, it can seem as if you should be employing hundreds of “tips and tricks” daily and using every single social platform to perform them on!
Succeeding in the social arena definitely demands active participation, but you also need to be able to discern whether a particular social network or tool is right for your business. If you are looking for ways to manage your brand, reach out to social influencers, improve customer service or simply create forward-thinking content, it can feel like a full-time job that leaves little room for actually growing your business.
So here are 21 tools to help you quit wasting time on social media without compromising your mission:
- Focus. With your email inbox constantly beeping and Facebook’s newsfeed sucking you into its vortex for an hour at a time, it can be hard to focus on the task at hand. Use Self-Control, an app that allows you to set a timer during which you will be prevented from accessing anything that you’ve determined to be off-limits for that time. So you could block your email and Facebook for an hour, but be able to visit any other websites.
- Pick three for success. The Coca Colas and Mickey D’s of the world can afford to reach out to as many of the 500+ social networking sites as they want. Most small business owners really only need to manage two or three high-performing social media platforms where their most ardent fans hang out, do their research, and share consumer experiences. Build an accurate customer persona and focus on your audience rather than trying to cast a wide net.
- Automate for applause. If scrolling the Twitter feed, posting relevant images, and keeping organized is taking up too much of your time, shift to a less time-consuming methodology: write a recipe for success with IFTTT. This app allows you to create “if + then” recipes, like “If I post a picture on Instagram, then save it to Dropbox.” And while you’re at it, create collections of news feeds on similar topics by using Feedly, which is a news aggregator app that organizes content about industry news and consumer trends in one place so you don’t have to visit each individual blog or website.
- Metering your metrics. Back office analytics are powerful business tools. But it isn’t necessary to mine every available data field. It’s much wiser to focus on the metrics that really matter. For example, while a product-based enterprise can benefit by monitoring click-throughs and conversions from social sites to e-commerce sites, a brick-and-mortar store that’s considering expansion may have a greater need to know which regions generate the largest number of unique visitors. Consider using software like SocialSprout to stay up to date on the metrics you need.
- Organize your editorial calendar and social shares. CoSchedule is a WordPress plugin that makes it easier to schedule and share your social media content. It’s a social media editorial calendar which makes it an efficient place to plan your content, have an easy overview of what’s coming up, and allows you to write blurbs and schedule your blog posts to all major social networks in one go.
- Take advantage of free labor and build customer confidence. If your company hosts an interactive Q&A forum, invite your most active participants to apply for the role of moderator. Naturally, you’ll want to establish some type of screening process, but with the right monitors you’ll gain the respect of your forum participants and give your customers a valuable resource without investing time and money better spent elsewhere.
- Learn from the professionals. Spend less time chasing engagement and more time capturing your audience’s interest with emotional, inspirational, and relatable content. Adidas published a web series on Derrick Rose‘s (Chicago Bulls) 2011 injury and recovery. Many of the 15,000+ photo uploads were user-generated – and that’s free marketing and zero wasted time!
- Spot trends. Trendspottr helps you identify emerging trends, which saves time when you’re searching for blog content. And set Google Alerts to send you an email any time this search engine finds new activity on a topic of interest to your business, or even your business itself.
- Use curated content. You don’t have to come up with inspirational topics yourself. ContentGems’ paid and free services monitor more than 200,000 blogs, social media sites, and news sources and then send you a curated list of industry news that you can turn into your own blog content to generate buzz.
- Coordinate frequency with audience activity. You can post stellar content and highly-relevant information, but if your timing is off then your efforts are all in vain. Do you post ten times a day or twice a week? Hubspot breaks down post frequency by industry, and CoSchedule recommends the best times to post on specific social platforms. Finding the sweet spot for your particular business will ensure you stop wasting time needlessly.
- Stop pinning everyday. If you’re pinning on Pinterest ten times a day, that can suck up valuable time that could be spent elsewhere on your business. Eliminate daily pinning with BoardBooster’s automated pinning: you set the frequency and number of daily pins and BoardBooster does the rest. It will not only schedule your pins, but can clean up your boards and grow your audience, too.
- Recycle Evergreen Posts. One of the many benefits of building a WordPress website is the Revive Old Post tool. You don’t have to create “start-from-scratch” content every day because this plugin helps you share old, yet still relevant, posts to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
- Create a centralized photo library. Use a photo organization tool like Google Photos or Picasa that allows you to create a cloud-native archive that is searchable by images or text.
- Use templates to make you look good. Not everyone is a visual design genius, but with Shortstack’s list of social media templates, now you don’t have to be. Check out these free resources to help you create profiles, images, and e-books, curate content, design a slide share or even build a template-building template.
- Quickly assign projects to team members. Project management tools like Basecamp or Trello make it easy for your entire team (both in-house and clients or contractors) to stay organized. Separate each topic or client into projects where you can communicate, upload files, and include deadlines. And every time someone adds something new, everyone on the team will receive an email to alert them.
- Retire outdated content. Just as important as it is to share quality content more than once, knowing when to retire your social messages is equally necessary. Use URL tracking to get a better understanding of just how your content, impressions, and conversions are doing. Once you’ve identify poorly-performing content, you can remove it and concentrate on new, better content.
- Queue updates on Facebook. With Post Planner, not only can you schedule your posts for Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, but you’ll gain access to proven viral content and images that you can share based on your target audience’s interests and history.
- Get triggers. With Zapier you can automate tedious tasks between two or more apps to boost engagement, so if you’re looking for a way to send a tweet when a new video is uploaded to your YouTube Channel, Zapier is the answer.
- Integrate social media. Services like Socialoomph allow you to schedule tweets, save or reuse content drafts, monitor mentions or retweets, find relevant people or businesses to follow, and much more. You can also use this tool with up to five Twitter accounts and unlimited Facebook and LinkedIn accounts.
- Create email templates and automated response forms. Aweber is a top-quality autoresponder that makes your email marketing more efficient and helps you maintain relationships with your current or prospective customers—with a minimum of effort on your part. It lets you automatically send a single email, or a series of emails, every time a visitor signs up for a subscription or registers on your website.
- Monitor your social sites. With DrumUp, business owners can not only monitor multiple platforms from a single dashboard, they can also use the social media management app on mobile devices to quickly schedule posts, create content, and change keyword settings.
Setting up your social media accounts is a great way to build your business, but that shouldn’t be your main focus. Explore these 21 tools and techniques and opt for the handful that work best for your needs. Stay up to date on content that is relevant to small businesses and latest technology by reading our blog here (you can even add us to your Feedly feed!).
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