Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter aren’t about simply being a part of ‘the latest thing’; they are about connecting with people. For small business owners, it’s about connecting with existing customers and potential customers, creating awareness and being kept in the loop.
In parts one and two we looked at some great apps to help you stay organised and share work with colleagues and devices, in part three we tackled bookkeeping and accounts, and in Part Four we dealt with that ‘little’ issue of managing time and staying focussed.
In the final part of this series I’ll share with you some great (free) social media management tools, specifically for Facebook and Twitter.
Tweetdeck is a twitter management system that allows for easy organisation and management of tweets. You can set up ongoing searches, manage multiple accounts on the same screen (for example, you may have a personal Twitter account and one for your business), and schedule tweets and facebook updates.
The best thing about Tweetdeck is how easy it is to operate and customise, making a great entry-level social media tool. You can set up columns as you want them, including:
- your tweetstream (tweets from everyone you follow)
- replies (when someone tweets you)
- direct messages (private messages from followers)
- trending topics (what many people are tweeting about at one time)
- searches (every tweet that includes a search term that you set)
- and more.
Does it frustrate you when your twitter feed is filled with several tweets from the one user in a short period of time? Or do you mind yourself digesting your morning reading and wanting to share multiple blogs and online articles? It’s easy to get carried away with tweet updates, especially when you’re passionate about what you do and you have a lot to say (guilty!).
You can avoid an onslaught of tweets (otherwise known as spamming) and also ensure your tweets go out at the most opportune times in the day by scheduling them.
You can do this manually using TweetDeck or Hootsuite by selecting the exact time and date that you want your tweet to go out, or you can make your life easier and use Buffer.
I use Buffer to control when my tweets are released so that they are spread out and also go out at times that give them maximum exposure. You can select which days you want tweets to go out, which times each day and even use it so that you have a consistent social media presence in a different time zone when you are asleep!
Buffer is free and gives you a widget that rests in your internet browser, so that with a few clicks a url or tweet can be added to your buffer feed. You can re-order the tweets in your feed if you like, and then leave it to buffer to send out at the times that you have already nominated, until there are no more tweets in your feed.
Hootsuite is one of my favourite social media tools because it manages several social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ and offers a range of intelligent features to that your social media posting is more effective and measurable.
Options such as choosing what format you would like links to be shortened to, and linking to other social media tools such as bit.ly and Buffer, make this a big step up from Tweetdeck is you are a more advanced user.
It has all of the core functionality of Tweetdeck, but with extra details and capabilities. For example, the virtual dashboard allows you to view multiple social media accounts but also provides insights into your reach and cut-through, with statistics on visits, clicks and more. In addition to catering to multiple social media platforms, there are new features constantly being added, such as the ability to have an automated tweet go out to commonly asked questions that relate to your expertise.
Social media apps can either be massive distractions that eat up half your day, or they can be invaluable tools for reaching clients and potential clients. It all comes down to developing a systemised social media approach and monitoring the success of your social media efforts so you know what’s working and what isn’t.
New apps are popping up on a daily basis and most of them are available for your smartphone or tablet as well. Make sure that you always assess an app’s usability, speed, cost, frequency, security and reliability. They’re all there to help you and your business, after all.
Do you swear by any apps that I didn’t mention in this series?