Social media is changing how we use the Web. It’s changing the way we consume, search and share information, so much, that consumers are now turning to social media before company sites when researching information on a product. If you’re like many small businesses who have read all the hype around social media and registered for accounts, but now wondering, “what’s next?”…this post is for you.
Often times, small businesses turn to expensive software services and applications to help maintain their social networks. This can be very beneficial if social media is an integral part of your marketing mix; however, we’ve learned that most small businesses don’t need all the features many of these services offer. You’ll end up spending more time trying to set up the accounts, remembering passwords, and figuring out how to use it, versus the end goal, which is to connect with your audiences and share key messages.
To help simplify social media, here are few tools that we recommend you use to manage social media and balance it with the rest of your daily responsibilities.
Hootsuite: Hootsuite is a social media management tool with an easy-to-scan dashboard of all your social media accounts. Instead of logging into each account separately, Hootsuite allows you to see them at once. At TREW, we use this service to schedule tweets and Facebook updates, and easily interact with our and our clients’ followers.
TREW uses this tool because: it allows you to schedule updates at your convenience. You can schedule tweets over the weekend, or while the key personnel are on vacation. In addition, it allows you to see new @mentions and direct messages in one interface, as well as, it has it’s own link shortening service, so the analytic reports are housed here too.
Case in point: At NIWeek 2011, TREW used Hootsuite to schedule social media updates for client, Wineman Technology. At the conference, Wineman and Tecnalia Research launched Dynacar, a fully validated, real-time vehicle model simulator for developing and testing passenger and light commercial vehicles. Intermixed with PR efforts, trade show planning, and web preparation, social media tweets and Facebook updates were released throughout the day to NIWeek attendees and show followers online. While tweets were released, TREW was helping clients on the show floor, and Wineman was occupied giving demos, meeting with press, and attending client appointments.
The result: Wineman had a strong show floor as well as off show-floor presence with over 200% web visitor growth. The graphic below shows how strategic social media can help amplify your message, which in this case was a result of the Dynacar launch at NIWeek, with the help of HootSuite for organizing and planning our social media updates.
Klout: Klout measures the influence based on a person’s/company’s ability to drive online action. With engineered algorithms, Klout analyzes your tweets, posts, Google+ updates and other activity to determine your “Klout score” from 1-100, based on the number of people you influence. The score fluctuates in real-time, so if you’re active one week and silent the next, your score will reflect that.
TREW uses this tool because: It helps to understand our return on investment with social media. At TREW, we don’t fixate on the numerical score, but rather the other analytics that surround it. It’s a useful tool for improving the focus of your social media strategy, by gaining valuable insights on whom to target, and how to spark conversation among influential people. Then we look at the results from Klout, which measures “influence,” meaning how many users engaged with your message. It can take many forms, such as a re-tweet, @mention, or a click – ie, actions of influence to measure. By monitoring your Klout score, you can better understand the percentage of effort each channel deserves based on your results and audience influence.
TwitterSearch: A hidden gem, TwitterSearch is much more powerful than most people know. Finding things in the Twitterverse can be overwhelming, which is why this search tool is invaluable, allowing you to cut through the clutter and focus on topics you’re interested in.
For instance you can find out what people are saying about your competitors by typing in “to:handlename” or “from:handlename”. It will give results of tweets that people are posting about the competitor or if you used the “from:”, it will provide tweets from the competitor.
If you want to see conversations about your business that may not be sent directly to you with an @mention, there’s a search query for that. For example, if TREW wants to run this search query, we could type in “Trewmarketing -to:Trewmarketing -from:Trewmarketing -@Trewmarketing.” This tells the search engine to only give results of tweets that talk about Trewmarketing, and not any tweets from TREW or directly to TREW. Many times, you’ll discover a few tweets that would otherwise not be found by your analytics.
TREW uses this tool because: it’s quick, efficient, and it provides results in real-time. With TwitterSearch, there’s no need to sign up for a new account on a third-party site, it’s already accessible on the Twitter account. It gives accurate feedback about most everything you can think of, and it’s a quick way to check if you’re social media analytics are accurate for Twitter. For niche industries, this search tool can be very useful to find subjects being discussed, influencers engaged in the discussion, and opinions surrounding these conversations.
All in all, there’s many tools and services available to help you manage social media. These are three that have worked for TREW and our clients, by helping us manage accounts on a daily basis, and analyze data in an efficient and effective way.
You can read more about the benefits of social media, and how to use it with these related blog posts:
Social Media: Real-World Examples that Dispel the Myths
Social Media: Define, Act, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Repeat
Social Ad Showdown: 5 Ways LinkedIn Takes Care of Business