What Social Media Tools Should You Be Using?
Learn the wisdom of compromise.
That’s the best phrase that I can use to sum up my experience of choosing a social media management tool for the past 7 years. No matter how hard I have tried, I have never found one that ticks all boxes that I needed at that time.
This is not a comprehensive list. There are 100’s out there ranging in price, functionality and usefulness. But what follows are the ones that I have used, and my general experience of them. I haven’t mentioned costs, because these can be negotiated (always negotiate!), and constantly evolving to match new functionality.
For customer service, complaints handling and queries, third party tools such as Conversocial are exceptional. The single Inbox dashboard made these conversation streams seamless to manage, and give the ability to report and measure on social media customer service activity. Other tools offer similar functionality, such as Falcon and Sprout Social.
For overall functionality; Hootsuite Enterprise has all the add-ons and integrations you would possibly need. For me, it’s not UX friendly and I find it a little challenging to use. But, if you have the time to sift through all of the plug-ins, install them and set them up, then technically it has the whole package. I already mentioned that Falcon was a favourite of mine — it has a fantastic listening functionality integrated into the platform, which can be used to identify influencers; brand advocates and join in conversations across multiple channels; along with a single inbox, customised reporting, scheduling and image editing. Oktopost is equally strong in some areas — I have used it for B2B purposes with its conversion pixel measurements, dashboarding, campaigns and advocacy boards. The advocacy boards alone make it up there as one of my favourites to date.
Market metrics, insights and dashboards. Social Bakers gives very detailed insights, and Simply Measured produces some very interesting and visual reports. Tweetreach, to me, still gives the best hashtag measurement breakdown.
Social listening tool. They’re expensive. There’s no beating around the bush. To warrant having one, you need a big budget . Tools I know of/have used include Sysmos, Radian 6, UberVu, CrimsonHexagon and Spredfast. Sysmos — from what I saw, I loved it, same as Spredfast. The only 2 I have used in enough depth to comment on are UberVu and Crimson Hexagon. UberVu (which has now been integrated into Hootsuite) confused me — when I had the demonstration I was blown away, but found it tricky to actually implement the campaigns I wanted to — but I know others who have had opposite experiences and loved it! Crimson Hexagon has been my lifeline at my B2B role for social listening campaigns with the detail and information that it provides — especially the topic wheels. The number one rule of these types of tools are ‘Garbage In, Garbage Out’ — you need to take the time to define and set your keywords and measurements before you get anything useful out of them. I’m yet to find a good value budget social listening tool. If anyone knows of any please let me know!
Scheduling. Buffer — all the way, all the time. It’s simply brilliant and I love it. The free version is great, but upgrading is even better and is very little cost. IFTTT — if you haven’t checked it out — do! It provides delicious recipes to share social content from one channels to another based on parameters and metrics. I’d dedicate a good ½ day to finding your way around it though.
Image creation tools. Adobe Spark, Adobe Photoshop, Canva, Pixlr.com. These are my top 4 g0-to tools!
- Write down your wish list of functionality from a social media management tool
- Highlight your top 5
- List out all the tools you have found, and compare their functionality to their top 5. Does the tool do exactly what you want it to do? If it has 5 of the 5, but the most important feature isn’t quite right, or you have to do workarounds — then it’s not the right tool.
- Then look at the rest of your wish list. What fits with the tools that match your top 5?
- Book a demo, but don’t let it be a full 45 minute webinar demo. Ask questions. Get to the functionality you want to see. Delve deeper.
- Negotiate. This is so important, and why I didn’t put budget at the beginning. Of course if you only have a £200 budget per month, then tools such as Sysmos aren’t for you. But Hootsuite, Sprout Social will be right up your street. Negotiate using number of users, and number of search results — this is usually where I’ve had the most success.
- Get full training booked in for you, and your team (if you’re a solo social media manager, get someone else from your team trained up too — you need a holiday!)
- Use the tool, and I mean actually use it. Use all of the functionality, and use your account managers and help systems to help you optimise how you use it. Garbage In, Garbage Out applies here too!
Good luck, it’s a jungle out there!