Social Media Management Tools

A strong social media presence will give your business a fighting edge, but from a pure time management perspective, how does the busy entrepreneur handle all those profiles? Luckily there’s a bevvy of wonderful social media management and scheduling tools (some of which are free!) to help relieve your headache. 

What is it?

Definition: Social Media Management Tools (SMMT) let you (1) keep track of your posting and engagement with prospects, (2) schedule your posts across multiple channels, (3) monitor any and all mentions of your company, (4) track and analyze performance, and more. 


What does that mean? The best SMMT let you use one easy interface to schedule posts ahead of time to multiple websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. They also have tools that let even a novice understand the analytics of their posts, who you’re reaching, and lots of other helpful data. 

Why you need it

Among the many reasons to use SMMT, the primary ones are: 

  • The benefits of being on multiple platforms
  • Streamline and simplify the posting process
  • Peace of mind (set it and forget it)

All three of these factors together make a very compelling argument, but let’s break them down further.

The benefits of being on multiple platforms

The bigger your presence is online, the stronger the impression you give to potential customers. If information about your company or businesses is easily accessible through social media platforms, your potential customers and/or clients will find it much easier to engage with you.

Profiles across multiple platforms ensures that you’re reaching as much of your potential audience as possible. Not only that, but you improve your search engine rankings. Finally, your competition is already there; if you want a fighting chance, you have to keep up.

Streamline and simplify the posting process

Having multiple social media streams is extremely beneficial, but keeping up with all of them can be a recipe for disaster. Managing multiple channels on different websites with different content is ensuring that something is going to fall through the cracks, and mistakes are going to be made.

Being able to have one tool that puts all your profiles in one place makes the whole process more efficient, saving you valuable time that you need to be putting into other projects. Keep it simple!

Peace of mind (set it and forget it)

Then there’s the final reason, and perhaps the most compelling: Who needs more stress? Nobody, that’s who. 

SMMT allow you to designate posts to go out days, weeks, and even months in advance. You can sit down and schedule everything, and then get back to more pressing matters. Knowing that everything is set and taken care of is one of the greatest gifts an entrepreneur can ask for.

Your options

Depending on the size of your company and the size of your budget, there are a few things you’re going to want to consider before diving into a SMMT. Some things you’ll need to consider are which platforms you’re going to be on, how often you’re going to be posting, and what your budget (if any) is going to look like. In short:

  • Set your criteria

  • Decide on free versus paid options

Let’s begin by taking a look at your criteria to help you decide which of these scheduling tools is right for you and your business. 

Criteria: Platforms and Posting Frequency 

Not all SMMTs are compatible with all websites. Some, such as TweetDeck, are hyper-specialized to be platform-specific. In this case, TweetDeck only interfaces with Twitter (though with some jerry-rigging you can get it to post to Facebook). So you’ll need to have a comprehensive list of which social media sites you’re going to be managing with these tools in order to rule out SMMTs that are incompatible.

Secondly, you’ll need to understand the frequency with which you’ll be posting. This ties in with free versus paid options. Some tools such as Hootsuite allow you to create a free account and have up to thirty posts scheduled ahead of time. And some tools like Buffer only allow you to have ten posts scheduled on a free account.

Free vs. Paid

As stated in the previous section, understanding your options (and how much bang you get for your buck) is important. If you are a solopreneur starting off on a shoestring budget, you’re likely doing everything yourself and are looking to save money wherever possible. In that case, you’d probably want to stick with the free options, which are numerous. 

However, the free options are free for a reason. Premium accounts on SMMTs have tools that you will not have access to. If your business is growing and you have the budget for it, a paid subscription to a well-vetted and highly-rated management tool can help to bring your business to the next level.

Paid subscriptions typically give you more space to schedule posts ahead of time, sometimes months in advance. You will generally have less ability to schedule these posts ahead of time on free versions. 

Social Media Sites: The Breakdown

Each social media site has its own quirks, advantages, and flaws. This post is designed to help you decide what platforms you should use to create profiles for your business.  Some are are poorly designed these purposes; and some have practically everything you could ask for. Let’s take a look at what each platform has to offer. Statistics refer to the United States only, from the year 2019.

The Heavy Hitters: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn

Facebook 

When discussing social media, you’ll of course need to acknowledge the juggernaut in the room: Facebook. This platform is far and away the most widely-used platform in the US. If you’re only going to have one social media platform, it should be this one.

  • You can share informational updates, pictures, videos, and so much more. 
  • Facebook also has extensive marketing tools that allow you to “boost” posts to reach even more people–and facebook ad are relatively cheap when compared to other advertising methods (and are infinitely more targeted to your customer base)
  • The site as 1.19 billion users. 
  • Facebook Insights is a free tool to help you understand how your fans are interacting with your page, to help you fine-tune your marketing strategy  

The Numbers: 

69% of US adults use this platform 

63% of men, 75% of women

Ages 18-24: 76%

Ages 24-29: 84%

30-49: 79%

50-64: 68%

65+: 46%

Urban 73

Suburban 69

Rural 66

Twitter

Twitter has 126 million users; only 22% of US adults use the platform, but many of the users are from other countries. Compared to other sites, Twitter is fairly simplistic: you can “tweet” messages up to 280 characters; when you ask someone to list off social media sites, Twitter is usually in the first four that they mention. 

  • Short but sweet: Twitter forces brevity because you’re only allowed 280 characters.
  • Capability to share video and pictures. 
  • Brands have made very strong impressions via their Twitter profile; just look at Wendy’s sassy Twitter account for an example.

One of the downsides of Twitter is that it is easy to allow your account lapse. If you’re not tweeting regularly, it’s easy for your fanbase to lose interest. Another disadvantage is the sheer number of accounts (including fake accounts) out there. This can make it difficult to reach your target demographic at times.

I would generally not recommend Twitter as your primary social media account. Instead, have your primary account be Facebook, or perhaps Instagram. Twitter helps you flesh out your online presence. 

The Numbers: 

22% of US adults use this platform 

24% of men, 21% of women

Ages 18-24: 44%

Ages 24-29: 31%

30-49: 26%

50-64: 17%

65+: 7%

Urban: 26%

Suburban: 22%

Rural: 13%

Instagram

Instagram is immensely popular with young people. While only 37% of the total adult US population is on Instagram, 75% of those aged 18-24 use this platform. If your target demographics fall into this category, then this site is well-worth it. Other benefits of Instagram include: 

  • Visual focus: I you have a physical product to offer, or a service that is photogenic, then Instagram is very supportive for your content.
  • Easy-cross posting: A picture can be posted anywhere. Content from Instagram translates easily to other social media profiles, and to your website or blog.
  • Created for mobile: Virtually everyone today has a smartphone. This site is designed to be attractive to mobile users; capturing the attention of your audience while they’re on the go is an added bonus.
  • Hashtags and location tags: You can hone in on your target demographics with even more ease by using specific hashtags to locate your audience by interests and keywords; you can also hone in on them based on where they’re located.

Many companies use Instagram as their primary social media presence; it is certainly a platform with a lot of clout. However, there are some drawbacks. First, if your target demographic is over 30, many of them won’t be on this platform. Secondly, images must be uploaded via a smartphone or a PC application. This difficulty may turn off some business owners. 

The Numbers: 

37% of US adults use this platform 

31% of men, 43% of women

Ages 18-24: 75%

Ages 24-29: 57%

30-49: 47%

50-64: 23%

65+: 8%

Urban 30

Suburban 30

Rural 26

LinkedIn 

This platform may not get as much traffic as others on this list, but it is used by almost half of US Adults aged 24-29. The reason this platform was included was because having a LinkedIn profile for your business lends to the impression of professionalism. 

A LinkedIn page can alsos serve as a temporary online presence while you’re getting your business website set up. Most LinkedIn pages don’t post regularly, but the page can still be immensely useful. Considering that a presence on this platform can be extremely low-maintenance (posting once a month can suffice), it is very much worth setting up a profile here.  

The Numbers: 

27% of US adults use this platform 

29% of men, 24% of women

Ages 18-24: 17%

Ages 24-29: 44%

30-49: 37%

50-64: 24%

65+: 11%

Urban:  33%

Suburban: 30%

Rural: 10%

The Niche-Noteworthy: Pinterest, YouTube

Pinterest

Not everyone is on Pinterest; however, those people who are into Pinterest are really, really into Pinterest. If your target demographic is women between 18 and 50 years old, this platform is the place to be. Some of its advantages include: 

  • It’s easy to drive to external sites. Each image you “pin” is hyperlinked to the original source. Referral traffic from Pinterest  is greater than such traffic from YouTube and Twitter
  • All posts are public. People on Pinterest don’t have to “follow” you in order to see your content. In fact, they don’t even need to have a Pinterest account.
  • Comments are optional. Everyone knows that a comments section can be like Russian Roulette. This option allows you to avoid that scenario entirely. 
  • Conversion rates are higher. People use Pinterest to research ideas and projects that are important to them. Because of this invested interest, they are already in the mindset to buy or sign up for something. Conversion rates are about 2.5x higher than they are on Facebook and Twitter. 

The Numbers

28% of US adults use this platform 

15% of men, 42% of women

Ages 18-24: 38%

Ages 24-29: 28%

30-49: 35%

50-64: 27%

65+: 15%

Urban 30

Suburban 30

Rural 26

YouTube

Out of all the social media sites listed here, YouTube is by far the most widely used. It has even more users in the US than Facebook. However, despite having more users, it isn’t the ideal site for many businesses on which to create a profile. 

YouTube deals primarily in videos. If you create a profile on this platform, you’ll need to populate it with videos in order to stay relevant. And video production can be time-consuming and costly. 

However, if video production is already in your skillset, or you have a big enough budget to pay someone else to manage and populate this profile, it would be well-worth your while; after all, over 90% of young adults use this platform.

The Numbers: 

73% of US adults use this platform 

78% of men, 68% of women

Ages 18-24: 90%

Ages 24-29: 93%

30-49: 87%

50-64: 70%

65+: 38%

Urban 77

Suburban 74

Rural 64

The Forgettable: Reddit, SnapChat, Tumblr

Reddit

Reddit is a platform that really isn’t designed for businesses. It is a series of forums (known as “subreddits”) based on specialized interests where people share videos, pictures, stories, and information. It is virtually free of advertising (aside from the common sidebar ads). 

To contrast: Facebook has created a system wherein you businesses can pay to have their content boosted to appear in more people’s feeds. Reddit has no such system. Therefore, users of Reddit tend to react negatively when they see businesses promoting themselves on the site. If you are going to engage with potential customers on Reddit, make sure you understand the platform and your target demographic thoroughly. 

The Numbers

11% of US adults use this platform 

15% of men, 8% of women

Ages 18-24: 21%

Ages 24-29: 23%

30-49: 14%

50-64: 6%

65+: 1%

Urban: 11%

Suburban: 13%

Rural: 8%

Snapchat

Snapchat is in a funny position for entrepreneurs. Nearly seventy-five percent of 18-24 year olds use the site, but it is difficult to use as a business. The site mostly consists of friends who send each other images and videos. 

It is difficult to connect with people you don’t already know; therefore, it can be hard to run a business profile. After all, your customer base needs to be bigger than just people you already know. .

The Numbers

24% of US adults use this platform 

24% of men, 24% of women

Ages 18-24: 73%

Ages 24-29: 47%

30-49: 25%

50-64: 9%

65+: 3%

Urban: 29%

Suburban: 20%

Rural: 20%

Tumblr

Tumblr has fallen so far from mainstream usage that a comprehensive overview of its demographics isn’t available. Fair to say, you can probably skip this platform. 

Notable Mentions: Google and Yelp

These are not technically social media sites, but they are very important to consider when launching a small business. Nowadays people often won’t even visit your website before deciding to do business with you; they’ll just look at your reviews.

If you don’t have reviews on Google or Yelp, you might as well not exist. People will likely pass you over. Why risk doing business with someone who hasn’t been vetted when there are dozens of other options listed, with five-star reviews, no less?

Takeaways

You should carefully consider what each platform has to offer before deciding which is right for you. You’ll need at least one social media platform to get started; if you have the time and/or budget, you should have multiple. If you have multiple social media profiles, take a look at our next article in the Social Media Series which will tell you all about social media management and scheduling tools. 

Numbers taken from Pew Research 

How to figure out what Social Media platforms you ACTUALLY need

So, now that you understand that your business needs social media to thrive, what comes next? Do you go out and sign up for every single social media platform out there? Not so fast!

Deciding which platforms to start out with is important. You need to get the answers to a few very important questions before you begin. 

1. Demographics: Where do your customers hang out?

You need to get this information ASAP: who exactly are you trying to get the attention of?

For example, if you’re trying to reach women aged 25-34 in urban areas, Facebook is an excellent platform for you. If you’re trying to advertise to teenagers, then Instagram will be your best bet. There are many excellent online resources breaking down the demographics on social media platforms. Take some time perusing them before you commit to creating a profile. 

2. How visual is your business? 

Having a social media profile on a image-heavy site (such as Instagram) is a good idea if you have a physical product to sell makes. Services can be harder to create images of, but it’s not impossible. But you may want to consider a text-based platform, such as Twitter. 

3. What’s the difference between platforms? 

  • Twitter: Allows you to post short messages of up to 280 characters. Site is text-heavy, not primarily used for images (though you can share pictures!)
  • Instagram: Used to share images, pictures, and videos. You can add captions, but many people do not read them.
  • Facebook: The most commonly-used platform, easily highlights text, pictures, and video.
  • YouTube: A platform for creating and sharing videos. Users do not interact very much with non-video content on this site.
  • Tumblr: A popular and versatile blogging site. However, its popularity has declined in recent years. Can be used to share text, images, video, gifs, and more.
  • LinkedIn: This platform is used for business networking purposes. Users typically engage with professional content related to their careers, including articles, images, and videos.
  • Snapchat: Majority of users are young people (under 34). Users create and share seconds-long videos or images and share them with friends.
  • Reddit: Interactive forum where users post in myriad topical threads (or “subreddits”) to connect and learn.

Note: Sometimes, more is less

You want to make sure that you’re laser-targeting your marketing. Don’t waste time advertising on social media profiles that won’t reach your customers. Worse, don’t create a bunch of profiles that you never use. A dead social media profile looks bad, and will make customers wonder if you went out of business.

Worse of all, you end up wasting time and money to manage profiles that aren’t doing their job. 

In the next article in our series, check out a detailed breakdown of what makes each social media platform effective and unique.

Why you need social media

What the advertising and marketing landscape looked like 10 years ago 

The landscape of business ownership and marketing has changed dramatically over the past decade. Ten years ago, it might have been excusable for entrepreneurs to avoid using platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to advertise their products. Nowadays if you’re not on social media you won’t reach anyone under 45. If your brand doesn’t have an internet presence, it might as well not exist at all. 

Advertising has changed in the last 10 years

One of the major changes over the past ten years is the fact that the internet now goes with us everywhere, always. Each moment a consumer is linked to social media is an opportunity for an entrepreneur to connect with a potential customer or client.

However, the internet is vast. With so much information available, it is easy to get overwhelmed. So, how do you stay relevant? A savvy and sleek social media presence is the secret to success. 

What makes today’s consumers different?

Millennials and Generation Z are far more likely to engage with technology in ways that are different from previous cohorts. They are: more likely to subscribe to a streaming service than a cable package, they spend way more time on social media, and they are fluent in that current cultural zeitgeist: the meme.

These tendencies provide both a challenge and an opportunity for today’s entrepreneur. While the advertising ways of yore no longer hold true, there are now infinite inroads into reaching your target audience. Today’s consumers are almost universally on at least one social media platform such as Facebook (such as Facebook), if not more such as 

  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • YouTube
  • Reddit
  • Tumblr, etc.

People engage with these platforms to connect with friends and loved ones, to get their news, and to interact with viral graphic content, such as the meme. While this may seem like the Wild West of marketing, social media can be an opportunity to create dynamic, witty, and meaningful interactions with your audience to build your business and create brand loyalty.

What can social media help you do?

Having a strong social media presence can help you:

  • Target specific demographics
  • Engage with current and potential customers one-on-one
  • Create memorable marketing presences 

Target specific demographics 

A decade ago, Mr. O’Malley’s Custom Shoe Shop would put up a billboard along the freeway and hope that the people driving by were the kind of people who needed handmade footwear. However, there was no guarantee. There was a fair degree of risk. Now, the miracle of algorithms allows you to advertise on social media platforms directly to your target audience. 

One-on-one engagement

In the past, the only time you would have a direct engagement with your customers would be when they called on the phone or physically came into the store. In online spaces, you can have meaningful interactions with your audience one-on-one in a public forum in ways that the rest of your audience can also view and publicly interact with.

Create memorable marketing presences 

Most people of a certain age remember the Superbowl Budweiser ad with the bullfrogs. Today’s digital equivalent in Wendy’s sassy Twitter account. But while the Superbowl ad has been forgotten by more recent generations, brands’ social media presences have the constant opportunity to update, reinvent themselves, and stay relevant.

Takeaways

Today’s consumers are different and require different handling. So don’t skimp when it comes to social media. Having a dead social media profile is almost worse than not having one at all. People can assume you went out of business or no longer exist. That said, you need to choose your social media presences carefully so that you’re putting your time and effort where your clients aren’t.