Social media is well on pace to become globally ubiquitous over the coming decades. In fact, there are already over 2 billion people in the world using platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google +, and Pinterest to connect, communicate, and create. If your business doesn’t have a comprehensive social media presence already, it is high time you hop on this train. Through an effective social media strategy, your company can build an active and engaged community of loyal followers, which translates into more sales and a better reputation.
“But I Just Don’t Have Time For Social Media Marketing…”
Now of course, the challenge is how you make social media work for your business. This is especially true for smaller organizations that don’t have a large marketing department, or the resources required to go out and hire a community engagement specialist.
Fortunately, there are several online services available that can make the social marketing component of your business much more manageable. Here are three of the most basic must-haves…
- Google Analytics. Google Analytics helps you effortlessly track your website visitors and determine things like how they found your site, how long they stayed, and what pages they visited. Even more importantly, G.A. underwent a dramatic overhaul in 2011, and now includes social media monitoring – allowing you to see how your social activities drive website visitors and customer conversions. It’s a great tool for connecting the dots and understanding the impact of your social marketing efforts.
- HootSuite. Hootsuite is a social media management tool that can make your life a whole lot easier. Through their easy to use dashboard, you or an employee can manage every single social media account you have: from Faceboook to Instagram; from LinkedIn to Tumblr. One of the great things about this free online management system is that it also lets you schedule social media posts in advance, making it possible to map out your social marketing strategy, then run it on autopilot. And just like Google, Hootsuite comes with a variety of powerful analytics tools for measuring campaign results.
- Buffer. Buffer allows you to collect all your great content, videos, posts, retweets, photos, and everything else that you want to share with followers. Then, as with Hootsuite, you can then schedule when and how you share this media. This makes Buffer a great productivity tool because it eliminates the need for a truly ‘full time’ social media operator. Simply devote an hour or two to compiling content from all over the web, set custom publishing times that vary from the present, to a few hours from now, to tomorrow morning, and voila! Not only does it appear as if you have a full-time social presence, but you don’t inadvertently overload your followers with cool stuff all at once. This technique also allows more followers to see your posts, as not everyone is online at the same times you are.
The Bottom Line Is That Social Media Isn’t Going Away
Companies that can accept and embrace this new reality now will be at a significant advantage over those that cannot. Yet while expanding your social presence is nonnegotiable, you do have a choice in your approach. The first option is to manually micromanage everything; which may actually be an appropriate strategy for very large companies. The second option, and the preferred one for smaller businesses and entrepreneurs, is to automate your marketing as much as possible. If you find yourself in the latter group, the resources listed in this article are a great place to start.