Two categories exist in the world of social media management tools: those that are mandatory, and those that are nice to have.
Much of social media is in the latter category. Pinterest is an example of this. Restaurants, most retail outlets or other organizations with visual products will do very well with a Pinterest account. However, a B2B tech company will not. (Only so many people will ever be interested in re-pinning a list of software specs.)
In my mind, there are eight tools or elements every business needs in social media, regardless of the industry. Read below and see how you fare. Are you missing any?
Even if you think you have the least visually appealing, least humorous, most tech word-laden product in the world, you still need a Facebook account. Check out Syncfusion, IBM and Bronto for content ideas. All three tech companies do a great job at linking to industry-related articles, sharing their own thought leadership and providing tips for how their product can be used – exactly how any business should behave on Facebook.
For more visual examples, check out Chick-fil-A, ASICS, and Barnes & Noble. Notice how often Barnes & Noble asks questions of its audience; then notice how many likes and shares each post has.
Similar to Facebook, it’s just expected that a company has a Twitter account. Luckily, Twitter is easier to run because frequent posting is encouraged, and every industry has a niche of followers it can tap into. Be sure that when you tweet about another user to tag their handle (it only takes a second to Google), and retweet any compliments you get. If you’re looking to garner followers quickly, consider hosting an event with an official hashtag. When attendees stream through the door, encourage them to send out a tweet.
Check out how The Hill, a political newspaper, tweets its stories out. Not only is every author’s Twitter handle mentioned, the publication also tags the names of senators and other state officials. See if you can do this when you see an article you like, or if you’re tweeting about industry news.
So many social media accounts are image-based. Instagram is entirely photos. Pinterest is photos with short descriptions. Facebook recently made large changes to its Edgerank score, but its News Feed still favors big, beautiful images. Even the human eye favors images over plain text.
In order to sell your story online, be sure to include photos of at least your product. Blog posts should incorporate an image of either your product or your smiling employees. Even if you’re a tech company, you can still show screen shots, or shots of your employees smiling. Legendary Whitetails is an excellent example of creative images. Notice that every one of the company’s posts is an image — even announcements about a deal.
If you’re in PR or marketing, you likely have already maxed out your Google Alert list. The tool has come under fire recently for returning outdated alerts, and if you would like to use another alert system, check out this great list from VentureBeat. Still, it’s far easier to come up with content when it’s delivered right to your inbox.
Hootsuite (or another scheduling tool)
Unless your only job is social media management, it’s doubtful you can monitor a social media account constantly. Even if you are the manager of just one company, a scheduling tool is helpful because it allows you to aggregate all of your accounts into one place, preventing the need to log in and out of each account every time you want to post something. Also, once you’ve determined the most popular times your audience is viewing your accounts, you can be sure to always post at a time when you’ll get the most reach.
Speaking of analytics, there’s no point in launching a social media strategy if you can’t analyze it. Check out ASPE’s free white paper, “Helpful Tools for Social Media Analytics to compare popular programs. Also, check out one of ASPE’s blog posts for a case study in how to translate analytics into measurable ROI.
Think that the lack of grammar rules on Twitter means you can slip by without a mastery of the written word? Think again. Good writing means far more than knowing where to put commas. If you can’t clearly communicate your message through text, then don’t bother setting up any social media accounts. Even your Instagram captions need to make sense.
Clearly Displayed Contact Information
At the end of the day, social media exists to build a connection between an organization and its publics. One thing you want to make sure to do is provide a pathway for those publics to get in touch with you. Read the Dollar Shave Club’s bio for a perfect example. It lists a Twitter account for support and a website, at which interested customers can find more information.
Are there any other essential social media tools or elements that you can think of or that work for you best?