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.
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.