Small business owners hear a lot about how social media can help their businesses, but there isn’t much advice about how to use social media or what tools might be helpful to make the most of Facebook or Twitter. As the social media manager at OnDeck, here are five social media tools I use every day to help me make the most of our social media efforts and stay focused on our goals.
Although these are the tools I use, you’ll want to do your own research to find the right collection of tools that will make sense for your social media efforts.
Managing multiple social media accounts can be time consuming, but it doesn’t need to be—particularly if you share some of the same information and updates over multiple platforms. Many small business owners don’t have time to spend hours on Facebook or Twitter every day, but a lot of businesses find value in sharing information about their businesses and their products there. If you could use a timesaving tool to help monitor and post to all your social media in one tool, you could reap the benefit of social media without the need to make it full-time job.
Tools like Hootsuite, a social media management platform, enable users to schedule all their social media posts across multiple platforms in one interface—even allowing you to schedule updates weeks and months in advance. Hootsuite also offers analytics reporting on your posts, so you can see which performed well and where you could improve.
Like many social media management platforms, Hootsuite has a free plan for up to three social media accounts, which includes a message scheduler and basic analytics. There are other platforms you can investigate that do similar things, but this is what I use to help me manage all my social media.
I’m not a graphic designer but still like to include artistic elements within my social media posts. Canva is a platform where you can create and store your social media imagery—and you don’t need to be a designer to use it.
You can create Facebook banners, Twitter posts, email headers, blogs and more. Canva allows a non-designer to use templates that are pre-sized, so the images you choose will fit the platform like a glove—regardless of whether you’re posting a meme to Facebook or an image to Instagram.
What’s more, many of the templates in Canva are free – and the rest are just $1 each. In other words, you can start making images to post to your social media without breaking the bank.
Infographics are a great way to engage your audience on social media, and they don’t need to be costly. If you’ve ever wanted to create awesome infographics but lack the budget to hire a graphic designer or agency to produce them, Piktochart is an application that makes it pretty easy. With Piktochart, it’s as easy as dragging and dropping thousands of illustrations, pictures, and icons on one of 500+ templates that include business, wedding, holiday themes and much more. The templates are easy to use and everything you’ll need to create an infographic is at your fingertips.
Piktochart also has templates for presentations, posters, and reports. The platform’s free package allows you an unlimited number of creations with access to 4,000 icons and full-editor functions. There are also paid versions that offer more storage and access to even more templates, hi-res exports, and watermark removal.
Once you get your feet wet with the free version and see if this is something you’d like to use in your business, you can upgrade to expand your library of potential templates and images.
Once you’ve created all this great content with links back to your website, you’ll probably want to know how many people clicked on the links, a product page, or anyplace on your site you’d like to track and measure. Bit.ly is not only a link shortener that makes the links fit better with social media sites that have a limited character count (like Twitter, for example), it also helps you track the clicks back to your site, making it easier to measure the effectiveness of your social media campaigns.
For a price, bit.ly will provide you with custom shortlinks that resemble your business’s name, which is great for branding consistency and gives users a better idea of where they are going before clicking on the shortlink.
Bit.ly’s free version will save all your shortlinks for 30 days, giving you time to analyze your links and see what platforms and geographies the clicks are coming from.
Whether you’re just starting off with a hashtag campaign on one platform or are a seasoned hashtag pro across multiple channels, if you want to track the use of your hashtags across social media, you might want to consider Tagboard. Tagboard tracks the use of your hashtag across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and others in a search and display interface – meaning you can see who is using your hashtag and where they are using it, not to mention the context in which they are using it. Tagboard also allows you to sort which platforms to filter and display the posts containing your hashtag however you would like to review them.
You can create multiple boards on Tagboard, and for more sophisticated paid accounts, have the ability to track live video streams on Facebook and YouTube, integrate into displays at your business’s event, and more.
Small businesses can use social media to find new customers, keep in touch with current customers, and grow their businesses—and these five tools might even make it easier. The free versions of all these software tools will likely meet the needs of many small business owners, but the paid versions aren’t very expensive and offer more options. I use these five tools almost every day and they work for me, but you’ll need to do some experimenting to see if they’ll do the job for you.
Jenn Prystupa is the Social Media Strategist at OnDeck. She runs the day-to-day social media posts and campaigns, and contributes to customer content creation. In her spare time, Jenn enjoys the outdoors and culinary delights of Princeton, NJ.
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