Countdown to Small Business Saturday: Social Media Tools
In today’s culture, the term “social media” is met either with groans or delight depending on the audience. Despite the seemingly increasing backlash against platforms like Twitter and Facebook, these outlets only continue to grow in audience. Furthermore there’s no doubt that social sites and apps have been a boon to small businesses looking to reach customers and drive traffic to their websites.
The problem is that social media is a) a moving target and b) can require a great amount of time to manage. That said there are now several different tools that can make managing your social accounts easier, while improving the quality of your posts and even help you boost the reach of your content. Continuing our spotlight series ahead of Small Business Saturday 2017, let’s take a look at some of the top social media tools for small business owners in a number of categories.
It’s safe to say that most entrepreneurs don’t have the time to occupy their social media accounts all day. As a result, there are now several services that allow you to schedule the content you want to post throughout the day so you don’t have to sit and babysit your social accounts. Here are a few different free and paid services to help you manage your social media marketing.
While Facebook gives pages the option to schedule posts, the main Twitter site and app do not. That’s where TweetDeck can make the life of a business owner much easier. In TweetDeck you can not only schedule your posts across multiple accounts but also manage your replies and interact with followers. Additionally, TweetDeck allows you to create columns based on certain keywords or hashtags, making it simple to find users to follow, content to share, and more.
TweetDeck is a great (and free) option for Twitter, but of course there are plenty of other social networks out there that business owners may want to utilize. To help you manage all of your social accounts, Buffer offers a number of services for businesses of all sizes. Buffer also has some other handy built-in features, such as link shortners and some packages include upgraded analytics so you can see what content is making the biggest impact with your audience. In terms of pricing, Buffer has free plans as well as paid ones that range from $10 a month to $399 a month.
In many ways, Hootsuite is similar to Buffer as it too lets you schedule posts across several social platforms and offers a number of analytics. However Hootsuite does have some unique features such as the support for social sweepstakes as well. This service may also be a good option for teams as it allows you to assign projects to different users and collaborate on ideas. Depending on your needs and business size, Hootsuite has a number of package options starting at $19 a month and climbing upwards of $499.
Another important aspect of finding success on social media is paying attention to what your posting and not just when. That’s why you may want to consider additional tools that will help you craft your content and present it to your audience. As you’ll see below, you can make great use of images or words to really hook your audience and get them to visit your site.
The ability to schedule posts is great, but what about finding great content and presenting in an effective way? ViralTag lets you do both, allowing you to create social media posts on the fly, while making sharp-looking images the centerpiece of your content.
This is achieved via ViralTag’s browser extension, which enables you to simply click on any image in an article, optimize it for the platform you want to post to, add text and other effects, and schedule it to a number of social accounts including Pinterest, along with a link to the article itself. Additionally, on the ViralTag site, you can set up RSS feeds of your favorite sites and set some content as evergreen, which will in turn repost it when you have an open slot in your posting schedule. Like with other services on this list, ViralTag offers several price points, with the lowest being $24 a month and highest being $249 a month.
Speaking of evergreen content, one of the best things about social media is that it allows you to consistently drive traffic to your businesses blog. The key is to post your content multiple times and perhaps even present it in a slightly different way each time.
MissingLettr makes this easy as it will first assess your content and pull out quotes it thinks will grab readers’ attention. From there you can set up posts that will be shared in one day, seven days, one month, three months, etc. after your initial publication. This gives you the opportunity to use some of your older content to reach new customers and followers. You can utilize MissingLettr for up to two campaigns per month for free but paid packages with other benefits range from $15 to $40 a month.
As mentioned above, great images and graphics can really help your content stand out on social media. In fact, on popular platforms like Pinterest, the image is often just as important as the link it’s promoting. With that in mind, here are a couple of options for creating custom images online.
One easy to use image creation service is Stencil. Here you’ll find a collection of stock photos you can utilize, templates and settings that mirror the ideal images sizes on several social media sites, Instagram-esque photo filters, and much more. Overall, Stencil makes it simple to find an image, overlay your text, size your image, and get it ready to share with the world. If you’re only creating a few images a month, you may be able to get by with Stencil’s free service, but they do offer plans for $9 and $12 a month to those with greater image needs.
Similar to Stencil, Canva offers a number of tools and features for crafting images to accompany your posts. This includes a vast array of templates as well as a library of clipart and images that can be used either for free in some cases or purchased a la carte for $1. Ultimately the choice between Stencil and Canva really just comes down to preference and workflow.
Promotion and link sharing
No matter how great you make your content, sometimes finding an audience organically can still be a struggle. To help improve the reach of your posts, you might want to consider trying out a few different services that will likely boost your shares. Let’s take a look at three such platforms.
There are two sides of Quuu — both of which can be beneficial to entrepreneurs. The first is the ability to sign up for curated content updates based on your categories of interest. What’s more is that Quuu also offers you the chance to have your content included in some of those suggestion updates. When submitting a blog post or article you’d like to be shared, you can include an image, tag your social account, and select the ideal category for your content. Note that promoting your posts with Quuu will cost you a bit of money (currently $50 for some categories) but will help get your content shared and perhaps lead to some new followers.
Viral Content Bee
If you’re looking to promote your content but don’t want to spend the money required for services like Quuu, you should give Viral Content Bee a try. Formerly known as Viral Content Buzz, VCB operates on a point system where you can earn credits for sharing other users’ posts and spend credits to have them share your content. This reciprocal sharing doesn’t give you as much audience reach as Quuu but, hey, it’s free. (Note: they also offer paid plans from $20-50/month that automate some of the promotion.)
Compared to the other two services in this section, BizSugar is a bit different. In fact, one could almost consider it its own social network of sorts. Here small business owners, entrepreneurs, and bloggers gather to share business-related content from around the web, which you can vote on in a Reddit-esque fashion. Not only does this lead BizSugar to be a treasure trove of content to be consumed and/or passed on to your followers but also gives you the opportunity to share your business blog posts with a receptive audience. Of course you’ll want to be sure not to spam BizSugar (or any service for that matter) and also be sure to take the time to comment and vote on the content posted by other users.
Get more tools
Finally, when it comes to finding new tools for social media and more, AppSumo is a great resource. Truth be told, it’s actually where I first learned about Stencil, Quuu, and other great platforms. You can think of AppSumo almost as a Groupon for business tools, offering discounted service subscription, e-courses, and of course apps on a daily basis. As I can tell you from experience, it’s a site worth keeping an eye on.
Social media is an essential part of growing a small business in the 21st century. Unfortunately that doesn’t mean that it’s easy to get the result you want. However, with the help of some tools to do everything from building and scheduling your posts to promoting them, you can increase your social impact and drive more sales — exactly what you’ll want to do as Small Business Saturday approaches.
Also published on Medium.