Despite the plentiful benefits and evidence that social media is a huge asset to your marketing and sales campaigns, there are a lot of businesses out there that haven’t embraced social media for their business.
The biggest reason for businesses being hesitant or put off when it comes to social media is usually having to deal with lots of different, independent social networks and finding the time to manage them all.
In this article we’re going to give you a quick insight into the most popular social media apps on the market to help you cut down on time spent juggling multiple accounts, remembering to post content, and help you manage your business social media.
Time to go social
Social media is here to stay and is a free and easy means to communicate with your ideal audience; keep them in the loop with news and updates, share your new products and services, and of course, entertain your customers with the fun side of your business.
It is one of the most effective ways to build trust and reputation, generate new leads and get more traffic to your website - especially when coupled with a strong paid digital advertising campaign.
But, no matter how worthwhile it might be, many businesses are reluctant to join social media. There are lots of reasons for this, but some of the common roadblocks we come across are:
- not having enough time to get involved in social media,
- not knowing what to post or when to post it,
- worrying about keeping company branding consistent (we can help with this with our free social media design templates!)
- and not understanding enough about the different platforms available to maximise a business’ benefit from them.
Whilst you shouldn’t expect to rush out and join every social media network out there, it is hugely important to have a presence on at least one of the major networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.
But it is true that without some help, trying to manage multiple social media accounts by using each platform independently can eat up a lot of your time and be more off-putting in the long term. Fortunately the social media apps and tools landscape is constantly growing with new tools and techniques being introduced.
So let's take a look at our favourite six social media apps to help your business.
Hootsuite is arguably the most popular social media management tool out there.
It allows you to manage multiple social networks on one web-based dashboard. Hootsuite enables you to track conversations, view your activity (mentions, messages, retweets, etc) and of course, schedule posts.
It also integrates really well with Google Analytics and Facebook Insights to help track your web traffic and conversions.
One of the nicest features is the ability to create tabs and streams of information. You can create any number of tabs which can house any number of streams. Streams are a powerful way to organise your social feeds. You can have a stream of mentions of your company, search terms for particular keywords (e.g. every time ‘accountants in Yorkshire’ is mentioned), replies, or direct messages.
A popular way that top management companies will use this is to have a tab set up for a social channel (e.g. a Twitter tab), and then have popular streams under this tab - things like an activity feed, username mentions, and some prospecting feed where they can watch out for opportunities to reach out to with their products and services.
- URL: https://hootsuite.com/
- Prices: Hootsuite offer a free plan for smaller businesses through to large enterprise solutions. The most popular, Pro, option starts around £99 per year
- Aimed at: businesses who want more control over their whole social media picture
Buffer is a great tool that focuses quite simply on the easy and effective scheduling of content across all of your social media.
Because it does one thing and one thing well, coupled with its simple and easy to use interface, many people prefer Buffer to run their social media.
You can keep your content consistent, scheduling throughout the week without worrying about micro-managing the post times. Of course, you can tweak your settings as much as you like, but Buffer does a great job of choosing the appropriate content schedule for your audience on each social network right out of the box.
Similarly to Hootsuite, Buffer has a very insightful analytical side to its offering. You can see which posts performed best, had the best engagement, and even reschedule the most popular ones right from the analytical console.
Price-wise Buffer has a completely free option allowing one social profile per platform (e.g. one Facebook account and one Twitter account) with a limited number of scheduled tweets. It’s a winning option for small volume users or those looking to try out a few things without the pressure of a limited time trial.
As a bonus, Buffer also have a free tool called Pablo which integrates with the main Buffer service to help you create stunning social media images to accompany your posts. Pablo is really fun to use and makes it easy to achieve great looking visuals without the need to hassle your designer.
- URL: https://buffer.com/
- Prices: At the smaller scale Buffer has two options: free and the Awesome Plan ($102 /yr). For larger teams the prices start at $99 per month allowing for great collaboration across teams, multiple social profiles, and larger scheduling limits.
- Aimed at: Everyone across the board looking to centralise their social media management and boost their productivity.
TweetDeck started as a separate company, but was purchased by Twitter in 2011. It allows you to monitor and manage your Twitter feeds with filters suited for your business.
Although it looks similar to Hootsuite and also introduces the concepts of streams, the interface is much simpler, aimed purely at the Twitter market and doesn’t feature as much depth in the analytics area.
One of the best uses we’ve encountered is in the managing of Twitter Hours. It gives you a very uncluttered way to see who’s talking about what, who’s involved in the #XYZHour, and also reply to anything and everything right there from the dashboard in real-time.
It does a superb job of allowing you to monitor and manage multiple Twitter accounts, as well as providing some popular features such as tweet scheduling, and account sharing whereby you can give access to your Twitter account to post messages without having to divulge your password to the other user.
There is also a desktop application available for Windows and Mac computers.
- URL: https://tweetdeck.twitter.com/
- Prices: free!
- Aimed at: people who want more control over their twitter feeds without having to learn a new interface
SocialFlow is used by some major publishers such as National Geographic, The Economist, and The Washington Post. It is an intelligent platform that pulls in your content streams, watches real-time conversations on social media, and learns the best times to publish your content to capture the attention of your target audiences.
The other side to the platform is the power to monetize your content. By selling sponsorship of your most popular tweets and posts, you can turn your content into real revenue for your business.
Whilst at $99 per month it does offer a higher cost that the other platforms, it is a choice worth considering for medium to large businesses and ambitious start ups looking to scale rapidly and get the maximum exposure in the minimum time.
- URL: http://www.socialflow.com/
- Prices: starting at $99 per month
- Aimed at: heavy social users or those looking to create new revenue streams through social media
SproutSocial can be seen as a powerful management and engagement platform. One of its unique points is the unified social inbox, a single stream of all your social activity that helps you gain a high-level overview of how your social activities are performing as a whole.
Drilling down, it offers a strong set of familiar features from social scheduling, a deep analytical side, content approval tools, and a sophisticated reporting suite to track your progress over time.
Although there are many reasons to take a look at SproutSocial whatever level you’re at with your business social media, given the $59 monthly cost and power features, it is a better fit for businesses looking for a powerful solution to help manage lots of content across many social channels.
SproutSocial is a featured-packed tool for those looking to get serious about social and take control of their social media.
- URL: http://sproutsocial.com/
- Prices: prices start from $59 per month
- Aimed at: businesses looking to take control of their social media and gain a deeper understanding of their social media marketing as a whole.
6. Audiense (formerly SocialBro)
You can search for and discover key influencers who can help champion and promote your products and services, as well as track engagement and study your competitors’ campaigns, comparing them to yours. Another nice features is the ability to automate sending direct messages (or DMs) to specific target audiences.
Audiense can analyse your followers’ timelines to create a report of the best time to tweet which would reach the most followers for more retweets and replies. It can analyse the progress of a campaign to seek out new followers.
When coupled with the Twitter Ads platform you have a powerful way to target unique audience segments and generate stronger leads.
- URL: https://www.audiense.com
- Prices: $39 per month
- Aimed at: businesses looking to maximise their Twitter advertising spend and reach key influencers in their business sectors
Boost your productivity with these great social media apps
There are many social media apps out there that solve a variety of problems and help you manage your business' social media in different ways, depending on your goals.
We've covered some of the best of breed and most popular, but the best approach is to choose a few you like the look of and give them a whirl.