What Everybody Ought To Know About Choosing Social Media Tools For Small Business Marketing
In a small business time is truly money. Operating alone or with a small staff of people means that you don’t have time for mistakes. Digital marketing is a powerful ally for small businesses trying to compete on a broader scale, but using social media effectively for digital marketing means creating and using a basket of tools that helps you become more effective and efficient.
Just as digital marketing itself can feel complicated, there is a bewildering variety of tools available, each purporting to produce great results with little effort. Selecting the appropriate tools is an important decision, poor decisions can cost in both time and money. The first step is to determine what you want your tools to help you accomplish.
The “why” and the “benefits” are the first characteristics to define. What do you want your tool(s) to accomplish? Your goals may be traffic, brand building, lead generation, customer support, or combination of these and others. Many tools are loaded with features but no single tool is likely to help you reach all of your goals. Therefore, it’s important to consider how tools might work together as well.
For me, curating content, sharing my content, finding leads, and engaging with others are the most important business results I can achieve on social media. So my tool selection is based on finding a tool or group of tools that can accomplish those goals and collaboratively accomplish those goals for the least cost and minimum time expenditure.
I’ll go through each of these “requirements” to share how I considered different tools and selected the mix that works best for me.
Curating Content and Automation
Curating content is simply finding and sharing quality content that your audience would benefit from reading. It gives you far more content to share than if you relied only on the content you create and positions you and your brand or company as a source of valuable information for your audience. Obviously, this means sharing links that go to other peoples’ or businesses’ websites instead of yours. But the long-term benefit, is increased credibility and authority in your marketplace and ultimately more clicks on your links and traffic to your sites as well.
Distributing The Content I Create
Sharing my content. On the surface this is an obvious one. But in execution, it becomes a more challenging problem. I want to share my content in a variety of formats on a host of different social media platforms at different times of the day in different quantities. Doing this manually would be very inefficient, yet not doing it this way would drastically reduce my traffic.
Finding Leads, Feeding the Business
Finding leads. Social media is brilliant for finding leads. There are at least a half-dozen platforms that are viable lead sources each with several hundred million registered and active users. While this is an ocean teeming with fish, it’s also a very big ocean and throwing your line in the wrong spot can see you going hungry. I look for automation to help me search for leads based on specific criteria and then begin to engage with those leads until they can be handed off to another set of automation within my digital marketing system.
Engaging with others. This is an umbrella requirement that covers all the other requirements as well. At any step of the way engaging with prospects is important and automation makes it much easier and more targeted.
So, what tools have I found that help me accomplish these tasks? For curating content and sharing my content I am currently using SproutSocial, but am now looking at BundlePost as an alternative. I also use HootSuite to help with content distribution automatically. Each of these solutions allows me to select sites to watch for quality content that I can share as well as distribute my content in a variety of ways.
For finding leads, I rely heavily on Twitter searches and am currently testing Socedo as a lead identification tool. I’m also testing RiteTag as a tool to identify what my audience is searching for on Twitter to make my content more relevant.
For engaging with others I use the platforms themselves as well as a number of tools that I just mentioned along with my social CRM tool, Nimble. Nimble allows me to consolidate my social media conversations into one place and build profiles of my leads so that my communications are more custom and contain more value.
I doubt there is a perfect tool set that would cover most situations, each set of requirements and needs is going to lead to the creation of a custom set of tools that works best for your situation. I would recommend following the process of determining what you want your tools to do in terms of delivering benefits to your business and then I would find tools that meet those needs. Most tools have a 30 day free trial so you can put them to the test and see if they are a match for your needs. Testing several tools at once will allow you to see how they work together and how your work would flow in using them together.
Don’t get carried away with “shiny object syndrome” and begin collecting tools that may not be suited for your business. While most tools have fairly reasonable monthly prices, they add up quickly and it’s important to ensure the cost of your tools is offset by the value they provide.