Love it or hate it, technology lies at the heart of the social world in which we now live. It's supposed to make things easier, but leaves many frustrated, and makes more difficult the task of improving your business marketing. So what tools do you absolutely NEED, in order to take your social media presence to new levels in 2013? Here's Influence Agents's round-up of the must-haves:
Your Listening Station
Ever heard the expression "You have 2 ears and one mouth ... use them in that ratio"? Well, as far as we're concerned, the same applies in social media. The greatest opportunity for any small business is to use social platforms as a tool to listen; to find out as much as you possibly can, about what makes your customers and target audience tick. You have 2 real options - Alerts or Dashboard - and in our experience, it comes down to preference, and your own way of working. For the busy types, alerts definitely work better. Use Google Alerts or Social Mentions to create an email notification when people use your chosen keywords in online conversations. You can set the frequency of your alerts - one a day is a great starting point. For the dashboard-minded, you can take the RSS feed from your Google or Social Mention Alerts, and place it in a reader such as Google Reader or Netvibes, to name 2 of many.
Your Engagement Console
Clicking around from one social platform to the next is sooooo 2010! By now, you'll likely be aware of engagement consoles (though not necessarily referred to in that way), such as Hootsuite, Tweetdeck and Seesmic. The former is our tool of choice, and allows you to send social updates to multiple accounts from one location. Send messages to your Facebook friends and Page fans, Twitter feed, Linkedin contacts, and Foursquare buddies, as well as to your Google+ company page (individual profiles not supported at time of writing). You also get access to a wealth of analytics reporting, to track reactions, and the configurable streams allow for easy monitoring of keywords, lists, and mentions.
Your Utility Belt
Need to stay in touch with your social contacts on the move? There's an app for that. Actually, there are hundreds of apps for that. Why waste your commuting time, when you can easily keep tabs on your fans and followers from your smartphone? As a staple, we'd recommend you grab the official Facebook and Facebook Pages apps, Twitter, Hootsuite, Google+, and Pinterest, as well as looking at some content curation apps, such as Stumbleupon and ScoopIt!
Your Traffic and Mentions Generator
Do you have a remarkable business? i.e. Are people remarking on you? If you've decided that blogging is an important part of your content marketing strategy (and why wouldn't you?), then Triberr is a must-have tool in the small business arsenal. Find bloggers in your industry, or better still, non-competing bloggers who speak to a similar audience. Start sharing their content and doing everything to ingratiate yourself with the right Triberr users, and (diplomatically) request an invite to established Tribes, that offer the greatest potential to share your content far and wide. This improvement in sharing and reach will extend your own network by osmosis, and improve engagement across your social presence.
Your ROI Tracker
We're back to those buzz topics on the IA blog ... "Stop Playing" and "Justify your Social Media participation"! Proving that your activity actually gets some kind of result - monetary or otherwise - is key to the efficiency you need, to ensure you don't become one of the many business owners who become so disillusioned with social media as to abandon it altogether. This is the part the nay-sayers aren't doing! Get a head-start, and become one fo the new breed, who does everything on benefit. After all - if your advertising wasn't working, you'd stop paying for it, right?! Social media isn't really free, people ... it takes (Your) time! Get real about what results you're generating. That starts with knowing!
It's early days for a great tool, which will help you track the ROI of your Twitter and Facebook activity. Check out Campalyst, and tell them we sent you!
What social media tools could you just not get by without?