Social Media

12 Online Management Tools If You’re On a Budget

More than ever businesses and brands need to monitor themselves on social media. Even if you aren’t active on a certain network, your customers are and you need to know what they are saying about you. Most businesses feel they should be on social media, but don’t have the time or the staff to put the effort in to multiple platforms.

If you have tried to post to Twitter, Facebook, and your blog, while trying to answers your customers’ questions and comments online AND at the same time you have this small task of running your business, you know what a nightmare it can be.

This post is here to help!

I am going to assume you have determined you know the networks your customers on which your customers are most active. I am also going to assume you don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars a month on a platform. All the platforms and websites listed below offer their services for FREE! I will also let you know the services I use and why.

Let’s start with the more common platforms.

Buffer Aaron Approved

Buffer is a great tool that will help you in two main ways. First, you can write a bunch of posts at one time, and choose which social profiles to send them to, and then Buffer will spread them out throughout the day or week so that you don’t have to be at a computer all the time in order to have a social media presence. Second, since we shorten your links for you, we are able to provide more analytics than if you just were to post to Twitter or Facebook directly. For example, we can tell you exactly how many folks clicked on each of your links.

Aaron Approved! I really haven’t used Buffer for very long, but I absolutely love it. I have small windows of time throughout the day where I can jump on social media. So instead of rapid firing off 10 tweets in a row, I can simply add the post to my Buffer and it will schedule the posts for me. The links analytics is a plus, and I love the ability to publish immediately or jump a post to the top of the queue. The Buffer browser extension is an absolute must to share with a click.

Facebook Insights Aaron Approved

Facebook Insights provide measurements on your page’s performance and are available after at least 30 people like your page. Find anonymized demographic data about your audience, and see how people are discovering and responding to your posts.

Aaron Approved! This really goes without saying. If you have a Facebook brand page, you MUST use Facebook Insights. Analyze everything about your page and you also have to ability to export the data so you can analyze it even further. Data nerd alert!

Hootsuite Aaron Approved

Hootsuite is a social media management system for businesses and organizations to collaboratively execute campaigns across multiple social networks from one secure, web-based dashboard.

Launch marketing campaigns, identify and grow audience and distribute targeted messages using HootSuite’s unique social media dashboard. Streamline team workflow with scheduling and assignment tools and reach audiences with geo-targeting functionality. Invite multiple collaborators to manage social profiles securely, plus provide custom reports using the comprehensive social analytics tools for measurement.

Key social network integrations include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ Pages, plus a suite of social content apps for YouTube, Instagram, Tumblr and more.

Aaron Approved! I use Hootsuite when I am in front of a computer. I solely use it to consume content, but you can share and schedule posts easily from the dashboard. Hootsuite is super easy to use and aesthetically pleasing. Tip: I create lists on Twitter and put every account I follow into a corresponding list (News, Marketing, Friends, etc). The I setup my Hootsuite streams to pull in specific lists. This way I can easily identify different types of content and organize my streams.

Google Alerts Aaron Approved

Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your queries. Enter a search query you wish to monitor. You will see a preview of the type of results you’ll receive.

Aaron Approved! I really don’t use Google Alerts to its full capabilities, but it is a very useful tool. I use it to notify me if someone posts about me or my family. I get an automatic update every time someone posts about me and I get a weekly update of mentions of my wife online. That is all I use it for, but these alerts are very important.

Klout Aaron Approved

Klout is a website and mobile app that uses social media analytics to rank its users according to online social influence via the “Klout Score”, which is a numerical value between 1 and 100.

Aaron Approved! Some people are not fans of Klout. I am indifferent, but use it to track my social media influence. Klout is trying to be a “content sharing” platform. I believe there are better options out there (Hootsuite, Buffer), but I can see how some people could come to like the platform. I use it as a benchmark monitoring tool. I have a goal to not let my Klout score to drop below 50. Soon I will be bumping that to 55. Some people have given Klout a hard time because they say, “What does a Klout score of 55 even mean?” It really means nothing, but if someone you respect in your field has a score of 65, then you can benchmark yourself against that person. You can also use it as I do to monitor yourself.

TweetDeck

TweetDeck: Owned by Twitter, TweetDeck is a desktop application similar to Hootsuite. Monitor multiple timelines in one easy interface. Schedule tweets to be posted in the future. Turn on alerts to keep up with emerging information. Filter searches based on criteria like engagement, users, and content type. Build and export custom timelines to put on your website. Use intuitive keyboard shortcuts for efficient navigation. Mute users or terms to eliminate unwanted noise. TweetDeck timelines stream in real-time. Manage multiple accounts, tweet, and follow from one or all.

Note: I have used TweetDeck in the past, and just prefer Hootsuite. I know many people that prefer TweetDeck over Hootsuite. It’s really a great tool and is really a matter of preference. If you haven’t used either, check them both out.

Now for some maybe lesser known solutions.

Icerocket

Icerocket is a free resource for brand monitoring. It taps the internet, blogs, Twitter, and Facebook, and delivers easy-to-read results in one page. It has a fairly minimal and easy to use interface. It is a great tool if you would like to search blogs, Twitter, or Facebook individually or all at once. Just type in what you need to search and the results are neatly arranged on the page.

Mention

Mention is an iPhone and Android app that lets you create alerts for your company, its keywords, your brand, and your competitors. Updates in real time. This app is similar and lets you create your first alert for free. It looks nicer than Google Alerts, but if you need multiple alerts, use Google Alerts.

Netvibes

Netvibes is the all-in-one dashboard intelligence platform for real-time social media monitoring, social analytics, brand sentiment, reputation management. Netvibes offers a free option along with two paid options. When Google stopped offering iGoogle, most of those loyal users flocked to Netvibes.

You can monitor a topic without signing in. Without an account, you can see news about your topic from Bing News, Yahoo News, Google, Twingly, YouTube, and Dailymotion. If you login for a free account, you can like your Twitter profile and see news and results from Twitter. You can also add widgets to monitor everything from Facebook to your website’s Google Analytics.

Note: I haven’t played around with Netvibes enough to give it my recommendation, but it looks really awesome. I will be adding this to my shortlist of things to try out. If you are looking for a dashboard that will give you almost any information you could need, check out Netvibes.

Plugg.io Aaron Approved

Plugg.io is a web-based system to help individuals, businesses, organizations and marketers easily grow and manage their social media profiles. It includes a suite of tools to organize and keep track of multiple accounts, get more followers, and automate the finding and publishing of excellent targeted content.

Note: Plugg.io is very similar to Hootsuite and TweetDeck. However, Plugg.io combines the features of Hootsuite with the features of Buffer. You can view your Twitter stream and you can schedule tweets for a specific time or set predetermined times to post, just as in Buffer. If Buffer ever makes me mad, I will definitely switch to Plugg.io. You can also get Twitter stats emailed to you weekly and infographics for free.

TweetBeep

TweetBeep: Keep track of conversations that mention you, your products, your company, anything, with hourly updates. You can keep track of who’s tweeting your website or blog, even if they use a shortened URL. The alerts are sent to the email address of your choosing.

Social Mention

Social Mention is a social media search and analysis platform that aggregates user generated content from across the universe into a single stream of information. It allows you to easily track and measure what people are saying about you, your company, a new product, or any topic across the web’s social media landscape in real-time. Social Mention monitors 100+ social media properties directly including: Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, YouTube, Digg, Google etc.

There you go ladies and gentlemen. Twelve options you can use to monitor yourself or your business online. All for FREE! Have you had luck with any of these platforms? Which ones did I forget?

Facebook's organic reach is decreasing

Status Update: Facebook’s Organic Reach Decreases

Small business owners across the world flocked to Facebook as a way to keep in touch with their customers and try to catch the eye of potential new customers. Many put a lot of time and money amassing a loyal group of Facebook fans that were advocates for their brands.

The thought was to build your fan page through any means necessary, at which point you would be able to reach your fans any time you needed.

Does that sound like you?

Well, according to multiple sources, organic reach for some Facebook brand pages has dropped to just 2 percent. That means if a page has 1,000 fans, only about 20 people will see each update the brand posts to its page. Small business owners who have been in the Facebook game for a long time have probably noticed this decline. A post by eMarketer notes average organic reach dropped from 16 percent in February 2012 to 6.5 percent in March 2014.

Fear not! Facebook has a solution to reach people who have said that they are interested in your business, often the same people you have already paid to get them to “Like” your page: Pay to reach them.

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. Facebook will let you pay to boost your posts and pay for ads to get more eyes on your content.

Facebook said last fall that the reason for the lack of organic reach was due to a lack of space in the newsfeed. And it has been reported that brands are willing to pay more to advertise on Facebook, which is driving up ad prices. So with declining organic reach and increasing ad prices, should your business even be on Facebook?

Well, that answer is really up to you, but here are some things to think about:

Are your customers and target demographic really on Facebook?

Teens are leaving Facebook in droves. The 13-17 demographic is down 25 percent from 2011 and the 18-24 demographic is down 8 percent over the same time period. However, the 25-34, 35-54, and 55+ demographics are up 33, 41, and 80 percent respectively. If your demographic skews older, there may be some value in remaining on Facebook. But if you are looking to attract teens, it may be time to look elsewhere.

What do your insights say?

Just because some pages’ reach has dropped to 2 percent, doesn’t mean yours has. Check out your page insights and dive into how many people are seeing your posts. If your reach and engagement are still at an acceptable level, stick with it!

No other social network comes close to the users that Facebook has

Facebook has over 1.3 billion (with a “B”) active monthly users, over 640 million minutes a month are spent on Facebook, and 48 percent of all Facebook users log in on any given day. There are A LOT of people on Facebook and odds are your customers are, too. You just have to reach them.

Do you have a good Facebook posting strategy?

It’s probably time to reassess your Facebook posting strategy. A way to increase your organic reach is to get your fans to engage with your content. Likes, comments, and shares go a long way and can help your content be seen by more people. So, how do you increase engagement? Just Google “increase facebook engagement” and you will get tons of great articles with posting tips to help share engaging content. Pick and implement a few and see what works.

When compared to traditional advertising, Facebook is more affordable and more targeted

How much do you spend on other marketing and advertising? Do you utilize traditional sources like newspaper, magazine, radio, or TV? Below is a graphic that shows the average cost of reaching 1,000 people.

Brian Carter points out on The Moz Blog that you can spend $1 a day and your ad could get in front of 4,000 people who wouldn’t have known about you or seen your ad. There are not many advertising channels that allow the targeting options you get with Facebook for the little cost.

It may seem like Facebook is being evil, and there are many people out there that would agree. But Facebook has to make money somehow, I suppose. Whether to give them your hard-earned cash is up to you.