It has been suggested to me, specifically by the lovely @CMGRmelissa, to write a post about the Social Media Tools I use, as it has often popped up (and continues to) in Twitter conversations. I have decided to follow her sage advice, (and was even able to snag some feedback from an industry expert for a cool bonus at the end!).
The tools discussed below are what I use when freelancing. One of the many benefits of working with @SocialKNX is that I get to use some of the same tools that the big boys do (many not listed). However, the tools mentioned here can be used by giants and dwarves alike.
As an Ambassador, you may think me a bit biased…and you’d be right. But wait! The only reason I became a Hootsuite Ambassador in the 1st place is because they saw me already raving about their product online. But, arguably as important, is the caliber of their customer service. Important because I’ll always be learning, and therefore, need a hand every once in awhile.
Pros: Scheduling! Monitoring and engagement within the platform. The ease with which I can get a bulk of a day’s work done in 1 place (although for my own account, I have taken to scheduling within Facebook itself). However, when juggling clients, it’s ideal, especially if other team members need to hop in for whatever reason. Their customer service is responsive, knowledgeable, and actually helpful. Hootsuite’s example is one that more organizations would be well-served to emulate.
The resources available to Hootsuite users are amazing. Hootsuite University! Are you kidding? The amount of things you could learn in 1 day of exploring in there would be an investment in the improvement of your company’s Social Media. With things frenetically ever-changing in this industry, you need to be constantly absorbing information, more importantly, quality information.
Cons: Sadly, I am slow to practice what I preach and don’t know as much as I should about the platform (solitary bell ringing, chants of “Shame”). However, I do use it every day. Aside from the occasional glitches lately (that seemed to have since resolved themselves), and getting kicked out to have to sign back in, I don’t really see the drawbacks. Keep in mind that, as a freelancer doing what I do, and not a company, its capabilities are a good fit. Since I only have a finite amount of time, I can only take on a certain amount of work. Therefore, my workload (and resulting need), is quite probably far different than that of an agency. As for me (and my clients), Hootsuite fits like a glove. (To be fair, we use Hootsuite at @SocialKNX as well).
Wow. I am no graphic designer by any means (even an “artist” is pushing it)…but I dabble. “Necessity is the mother of invention”, and all that. A former colleague mentioned this tool to me in passing and I’ve never looked back. There is so much you can do, and they offer so much of it for FREE! It’s easy to use, fun to explore and the possibilities for creating engaging, visual content are staggering.
Be sure to check out the drop-down menus for unique tweaks like: copies, transparency, fonts, and colors (you can also upload your own unique logos, fonts and colors for better brand association; check out their “brand kits”). Layouts, elements, templates, free images (make sure to check for seasonal stuff. I went crazy with the free illustrations one Halloween for a client…I couldn’t stop!).
Customizable dimensions and the ability to resize an image for optimal clarity across Social Media platforms, as well as share among team members, rounds out why you should definitely give it a try.
Ok, this one! I have gotten the most grief from using this…but it was all my fault. I was not using it properly (I used the Rule Builder to the point of abuse…well-intentioned, but abuse nonetheless). Admittedly, this is one with which I need to become more familiar to totally take advantage. I am most certainly under-utilizing this, and I know I am gonna kick myself when I learn more, and realize exactly how I slept on its capabilities. I look at the detailed reports they supply and swear that I MUST get better at harnessing this, but haven’t been able to move that off the back burner as yet. I have gotten better though. No more Twitter villagers in my notifications with torches and pitchforks. Progress!
That being said, the Rule Builder is amazing for engagement. Yes, it’s automated, but if done right, it works well. (NOT what I did originally. DO NOT use the Rule Builder to respond to being added to Twitter Lists, Likes and Shares. People will be calling for blood if you thank them too many times or ask the same question more than once. I promise, it’s true. You’ll waste time being indignant over seemingly illogical hostility, when at the end of the day, it’s not designed to be used that way. Stop pissing people off, Bree!).
Why I keep paying monthly for this when I am only currently using 1 feature is because that 1 feature is responsible for a HUGE % of my engagement. It affords me the opportunity to strike up conversations with people of all sorts and to ask them questions, even whilst I attempt sleep. I’ve programmed questions to which I sincerely want to know the answers, and am able to simultaneously be polite and pick the brains of the masses.
I am always interested in learning, especially as it pertains to our industry. This provides the opportunity to do so in an effective way with people whom I otherwise would probably not have engaged. Keep in mind, however, that it is meant as an ice-breaker (as an INTJ, I tend to prefer info. over small talk) and should be followed up with an actual conversation. To not follow up is a massive waste of networking potential and could even wind up alienating the very people most likely to interact with your content/brand. I mean, why pay for this if you’re not after engagement? In fact, why are you on Social Media?
For a freelancer on a budget that needs images, this is a gift from Heaven! Again, an agency probably has an account with an image source (I get to use @Shutterstock when working on behalf of clients for @SocialKNX), but for those of us making a go of it on our own, “free, quality images” is like the whisper of paradise; a lush oasis after hours of fruitless searching in the copyright-free desert. Save yourself the trouble and go there first. It’s also searchable, so you can type in what you desire. And, buy them a cuppa coffee while you’re at it, would ya? (You’ll know what I mean when you use their site.)
Another one for which I pay and don’t know well enough to use most-effectively (Again, my own fault). I use this to play the “follow/unfollow” game, which to me, just means cultivating my Twitter garden. I know many are using other options, but I appreciate the info. that is available for me to observe of other accounts’ stats. Also, Power Mode is beast for following. Set your parameters, use keywords for targeting, make your search specific, rinse, and repeat! It’s customizable and pretty easy to navigate.
They even have an Entertainment Mode to ease a bit of the tedium. The only problem I have with this tool, is that it is frequently glitchy and down. So sad. Get your act together, ManageFlitter! I really like you, but why should I pay for you when almost every time I go on, there is some issue? Seriously. Don’t be a deadbeat boyfriend. I believe in you and don’t wanna break up! (But I will if I must.)
So, there you have my Top 5! Again, I sheepishly admit that I am woefully under-informed on some of the best and most powerful features of these Social Media Marketing tools…for now. But, I’m always happy to learn and tend to be a quick study.
If you have questions, or are interested in working with me, or if you have any tips or advice on these or any other Online Marketing tools, I’m all ears in the Comments, Contact Page, or share with me on Twitter. I look forward to hearing from you!
Now, for someone who knows his stuff inside out…@EdLeake! I have had the great fortune to get some feedback from one of the industry’s best. He is someone who I really admire for consistently providing superior, actionable content.
Ed is super knowledgeable, accessible, and an overall, quality guy. As the Managing Director of Midas Media, he’s also been rated as 1 of the “Top 5 Rising Stars in PPC” by PPC Hero! Here’s what he was kind enough to share:
“So content scheduling is the biggest headache for us, at Midas Media, with many disparate tools that don’t seem to do everything we need. My top tools look like:
Pros: We use this for quick retweets and shares because the browser plugin makes it easy. Reporting is okay; better than some, but still limited.
Cons: No repeat schedule. It’s just once and done, therefore there’s an admin. overhead. No shuffle function.
Pros: We create schedules for different content types and it recycles over and over, which is a great time-saver. We do like MeetEdgar for this reason.
Cons: Reporting is RUBBISH. It also starts to get messy when you have multiple accounts. There’s no shuffle function here either, so when it first shares out content the posts go in order. This is something which you need to be aware of, especially if you add posts that are very similar or variations of each other.
Pros: It’s inexpensive. It has a big range of scheduling and recycling options; “once and done” or “date range” is great. For example, you could set up a whole host of tweets for Christmas and run them for a few months, then stop automatically.
Cons: It’s currently only for Twitter, and there’s no reporting (seems to be a weakness of most platforms). UX is old-fashioned and a little clunky.
Pros: Visual reports are great; easy to extract and it does a decent job of giving top-level metrics. Scheduling is solid and does allow for multiple date entries, like Buffer.
Cons: Still not advanced enough for certain tasks and gets expensive if you need a lot of accounts. Scheduling is quite a manual process because it lacks recycling.
We only use it to monitor accounts, i.e. respond to interactions etc. Otherwise, it falls short on most fronts.
This is a tool we’re looking at and reviewing, essentially to replace ALL of the above! However, the cost is quite a jump from the other tools. Social listening is also something we employ via our automation software, Act-On. Otherwise, we’d be using Mention, which is a fair cost for the level of functionality.
In our experience, if you’re not a mid-large brand, the opportunity for brand mentions is quite small. Therefore, you’re better off using listening for ‘social selling’ strategies, such as supporting and answering questions/people on social media. Not to be confused with direct selling, of course!
I’ve just recently started using this; so far so good, for a personal account that is. Reporting is non-existent, but it does allow you to quickly filter Twitter activity. For an active account like mine, that helps by speeding up my daily activities.
In summary, if you don’t go for an enterprise tool (with the costs) then all the others are a compromise. Lots of juggling between them.”