As a small to medium business owner, social media is a fabulous resource for brand promotion and identity building. It is, in fact, critical for small business to have an active and effective social media presence. The free-to-use platforms each have their own unique benefits to business marketers and finding the right ones to use for your own style of business and brand can help take your business to the next level and beyond.
Social media platforms have a definite niche for business marketing and as such there are some business-specific tools available to small business owners and marketers which are invaluable for growing, showcasing, and evolving a business.
Here are just a few must-have social media tools for business owners.
This brand new tool on the LinkedIn platform, which is still being applied across the entire medium, is a definite must-have for your LinkedIn marketing strategy. It is similar to the Upwork and Fiverr freelance hiring mediums, in that it provides a framework for matching consumers seeking specific products or services with professional providers who can deliver.
How does the LinkedIn ProFinder work?
- Generate leads into your inbox. You answer some basic questions about the service you’re seeking.
- LinkedIn will then introduce you to the best local professionals that match your request. You receive up to five offers from professionals who are ready to provide their service to you. Select the right fit for you and make contact.
- If you are a service provider, and interested in a request, you’re invited to respond with a short proposal; the service-seeker will also be given access to your full LinkedIn user profile.
- If the fit is right, the hiring process takes place.
This tool is designed for independent or freelance professionals of the highest quality. All of the information on ProFinder is sourced directly from LinkedIn profiles, so amendments made on one will translate to the other.
Freelancers should include quality recommendations that are relevant, clearly defined, that reference skills utilised, and are dated to when the service was provided or the reference was given. It is also recommended that freelancers build their professional standing with use of the LinkedIn publishing platform, authoring articles on everything from industry trends to personal career accomplishments to build professional standing as an expert in the relevant field.
ProFinder will match professionals across a vast array of industries, including but not limited to design, real estate, coaching, IT, marketing, writing and editing, consulting, photography, home improvement and legal services.
Whether you are offering a service or seeking a service, ProFinder should absolutely be an integral part of your LinkedIn marketing plan.
Symphony is one of a number of similar tools that allows social media marketers to manage profiles for Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter all from one place. Profiles are separated between platforms and also between business and personal profiles, and setting up posts for each platform can be achieved without switching between tabs or windows or needing to log in or out.
Posts can be published immediately or set in advance, to publish at a particular time and in a particular time zone. With the Crosspost tool, blog and website links can not only be shortened automatically, but they can also be posted as images and each post may be customised. This is a valuable resource, as image-based posts generate more likes (53 per cent), comments (104 per cent) and click-throughs (84 per cent). You can also upload images from your device; alternatively, Symphony will suggest an image based on its Google Image Search tool.
The beauty of Symphony for social media marketing is in its automation. This allows you to publish content quickly and easily, in advance, and spend more time creating content that is worthwhile and valuable.
Commun.it is a social media relationship management tool. It helps Twitter users find who is in their community and to identify who is engaging (retweeting, mentioning, favouriting) and who your influencers are. This saves an enormous amount of time, allowing business owners to thank retweeters, reply to mentions, engage with blog interactions, and even identify those who have unfollowed you (so as to determine whether reciprocation is appropriate or not).
The basic features of Commin.it are free to use, however there is a Pro Plan that is priced competitively and allows access to a full range of features. These include tools to manage all aspects of Twitter as a business user, including:
- Acknowledge all mentions and replies
- Retweet as applicable
- Send gratitude tweets to loyal and high value followers, supporters and influencers
- Check list of new followers and reciprocate if suitable
- Check unfollow list and reciprocate if advisable
- Monitor engagement with your profile
- Discover and interact with new leads.
MailChimp is not new, but it does have a proven track record. This email marketing and newsletter service was born in 2001, and it now sends out 4 billion emails a month. As a business owner, social media is but a part of the equation; email marketing has its crucial place as well in an overall marketing strategy.
Put simply, MailChimp addresses the issues that can arise when sending emails to customers: Building a database of email contacts, applying demographic information to your list, creating an email newsletter that will work across all platforms and tracking analytics. Whether you are a paying customer or using the service with a free plan, MailChimp offers customer service that is second to none.
URL shorteners are critical when you use social media. Regardless of character limits imposed by Twitter, any link looks better when it’s as short as possible. A long URL is simply a waste of space.
LinkedIn and some other platforms automatically shorten URLs, but the beauty of using bit.ly is that is offers a tracking and analytics service alongside shortening URLs. You can identify with ease how many click-throughs a link has generated and which social networks are generating most results. You can even customise shortened URLs if you have a short domain name.
The final tool we’ll look at is Quintly. This is a powerful social media analytics tracking application that helps you to track the performance of your business profiles across Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, blogs, and Instagram. Using Quintly, you will gain insight into how your performance on social media compares with that of your direct competitors and also averages across your industry. With this knowledge, you can tweak your social media marketing approach to optimise your performance and results based on measurable benchmarks.
- Identify benchmarks for all channels instantly
- Identify most effective content
- Visualise data for easy analysis
- Optimise reports
- Customise dashboards
- Identify key influencers
- Build connections
- Monitor consumer engagement
- Learn about your followers
- Optimise your future content
- …and so much more
Quintly makes the process of analysis fast and simple. Rather than manually tracking your key performance indicators (KPIs), the information is available in a clean and concise overview and in one place for all platforms you use. There is no better way to save time and focus on more important business activities.
In other social media news…
We’ve always looking for the most update or relevant information on social media so you can have your finger on the pulse when it comes to this ever-changing medium.
Here are three ways you can learn more to take your profile and business to the next level:
1.LinkedIn: Many modern professionals are familiar with LinkedIn. It is the largest online professional social network in the world, with more than 300 million active users. With LinkedIn, you can discover and generate leads, connect with prospective business clients or partners, and even find a job. If you want more info about it we’ve got a free four-week LinkedIn eCourse to help get your profile to the top 5 per cent of users and have the coveted “All-Star” rating – the highest ranking on LinkedIn.
2. Instagram: Like many social media platforms, Instagram is immensely popular and this popularity can be harnessed by you as a business owner to help to build your brand. Visual content is ever more important to online marketing strategies, so it follows that using Instagram for business propagation is a no brainer. Yet relatively few business owners have an Instagram account for their brand.
3. Snapchat: Innovative business owners are beginning to discover that Snapchat can be very effective when used as part of their social media marketing campaign. Snapchat is currently one of the fastest-growing social media networks. It is fast attaining a vital role in global social media marketing strategies.