Social media marketing still has a long way to go. it’s not that we don’t have the technology, we do.
The problem is that those who have most affinity with the medium have yet to fully enter the work force and put their acquired knowledge to use.
Give it another 10 years and we will be looking at a very sophisticated social media marketing culture.
That said, the tools are out there and if you want to keep your small online business or website above water, you need to be able to sort out the duds from the social dynamos.
There are some great social media tools out there and many of them are free. Below I have listed my top five and I explain how I use them.
Are you using any of these tools? Let me know how you use them and what kinds of success you are having in the comments below.
Did you Know ~ 72% of all internet users are active on social media. Do you have the tools to reach them?
Canva is a free infographic deisgn tool. OK, so it’s not a Social Media Tool by definition, but I am putting it in here because it’s primary use is to boost your engagement and is especially suited to social sharing.
Canva is easy to use and super-intuitive. Yesterday, knowing that it was Monday, it washed all my bedsheets and took out the rubbish. I made that up. Canva can’t really do those things, but it can create brilliant images of other people doing those things.
Why use infographics? Did you know that in the last two years, search volume for infographics has increased by 800%
Adding Canva to your Social media Tool Kit you can:
- Create Dynamic Ads, Tutorials and Info-graphics for free
- Upload your own images
- Promote Events and Products
- Create Slide Shows for use in Slideshare
- Create Viral Memes and images
- Create Logo’s and branding Material for your articles and websites
How to Use Canva
Canva is a sleek and easy to use online graphic design platform that can help you create those eye catching images that we’re all after to use on our sites and Social Media Platforms.
Build Branding and Designs from Scratch
With Canva you can select from pre-determined graphic templates or simply create your own with custom size and style. Canva will invite you through a series of very easy-to-use tutorials to make sure your design is hip, flash and groovy.
Drag and Drop Elements in to custom size Images
Use the search function to browse an enormous repository of images, and the Text tab to add free text or stylized text with built-in backgrounds. There is more than enough image options here for most, but you can also upload your own gear or pay for premium elements (I have not had to do that yet).
Edit and Manipulate Text and graphics
The Canva interface comes with simple tools for editing, manipulating and colouring all text and graphics on the page. What’s really nice to see isd that everything is exactly where you thought it ought to be.
There is no need to go digging through menus 10 layers deep. Everything you need to edit text and graphics is right under your nose.
Canva is’nt just about infographics. Infogrpahics will come and go (just watch and see). But branding remains staple to all small business marketing. Canva can produce high resolution and high quality branding, logos and image ad campaigns for free.
Ideal for Social Media branding, Pinterest and Website Logos.
BuzzSumo appeals to the narcissist. It’s primary use is to gauge the social share and reach of your work – or your competitors. BuzzSumo is an ideal tool to have for your Content Marketing Strategy. It’s free and easy to use.
With BuzzSumo you can:
- Discover what people are sharing the most in your niche
- Analyze what topics, headlines, and content formats work
- Find interesting content to curate
- Discover guest post and interview opportunities
- Connect with influencers in your niche
- Gauge the depth of Social Competition for a key phrase
- Monitor the progress of your own content
- Identify which Social Networks are working for you the most
- Analyze your competitors top content by entering a domain
How to use Buzzsumo
Check the Progress of Your Content Alongside Your Competitors
Having written a piece of content and optimised it for the keyword you hope to rank for, you can check its social progress and identify which Social Network is giving you the best returns.
You can also view the competition and gain insight in to which Social Networks are working for them, which Titles might encourage click through and as a basic tool for doing further research on your competitors back links.
Show which Content is Getting the Most Attention from Your Website
You can also show the top content from a website according to its popularity in Social Networks. The benefits are obvious. You want to know what people are interested in and how they are expressing that interest through social media.
Discover the Social Leaders in your Niche
You can view the top social influencers for a particular keyword or phrase. This not only reveals who your competition might be, but allows you to drill down further and see where their Social Marketing is having the greatest impact.
Find out who is Sharing your Content
Finally, and we are still only scratching the surface, you can look to see who is sharing your content. This provides you with some valuable leads on either the kinds of people most likely to use your services in the future. Or, it provides you with a list of currently interested professionals who might be willing to collaborate with you.
Viral Content Buzz
Viral Content Buzz, the brain baby of Ann Smarty gets my Yay! for the Day. This Social Media Tool enables you to share your awesome articles or blog post (or infographic) . I use it to give some of my articles a bit of fresh air and some extra run time across the web.
The service is free. You simply share content on your own network of social media sites and earn credits. With these credits you then set up your own content for sharing. Just add the link and watch the world share your guff.
With Viral Content Buzz you can:
- Increase Traffic to your Site
- Boost search results through greater engagement
- Increase Sharing of your content for free
- Share the quality content of others on your own site
- Increase Social media Authority
- Automate Social Sharing Tasks
- Increase Backlinks to your content
How to Use Viral Content Buzz for your Website
At the time of writing you can have your content shared on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and StumbleUpon. You can select what kinds of sites you want to share with and how you want your content titles displayed and linked.
The concept of VCB is brilliant – you share other people’s posts on your social media accounts, collect points, and submit your own posts to be shared by others. Thee is no trick to it. It’s simple and that’s what makes it super cool. It’s an honest form of Search Engine Marketing since no one is being forced to share or be shared.
Find Content you want to Share
You won’t be bullied in to sharing rubbish with Viral Content Buzz. You decide what you share and where you share it. Topics include, Pets, Photography, Religion, SEO and Social, Self Improvement, Society & Social Issues, Sports & Fitness – just to name a few (in alphabetical order because all I did just then was copy and paste!)
Create a Project for your Social Media Marketing Campaign
Viral Content Buzz makes sharing your stuff super easy. Once you have racked up a few points, head over to the project tab. Add URL, title, description and subject and your done. Once reviewed for quality (happens pretty quick) it will be live on the site for sharing by other users.
To help protect the environment from spammy rubbish and having your content land on spammy sites, VCB requires minimum likes, followers, etc, to be on your own credible Social Media Platforms. Don’t complain about this. Its for your advantage.
The bigger your social network – the more points you gather. Meaning that if you have 20,000 twitter followers, every time you share a project on twitter you will gain more points than if you just had 200 followers.
Similarly, every time someone with 20,000 Twitter followers shares your project, you surrender points from that project.
VBC links in with Buffer and can also arrange for some automation tasks. Something really valuable is the ability to see who shared your content. This lets you keep an eye on the quality of the sites who are sharing. It also means you can interact with the share, like it, stumble it and give your own work a bit of a nudge.
Bitly is more than just a URL shrinking machine.
Bitly is also a valuable analytics tool. As a collection of all of your shortened links, Bitly can track the time of day you get the most clicks and provide details and the effects of everything you share.
Bitly is a great way to see what content your audience finds worth mentioning across a number of networks. It also integrates into many third-party software packages, making it a great umbrella tool.
With Bityl you are able to:
- Monitor your Statistics
- Customise short URL’s
- Collect and Organise Links
- Discover Real Time Trends in your Niche
How to use Bitly
Shorten and Customise Your Links
Bitly is great for affiliate marketing where you want to keep links simple and uncluttered, yet retain their vital affiliate ID. They also allow you to create appealing short-links. Just drop the link in the Bitly shortner and away you go.
Alternatively, you can use the Bitly Bookmarklet and shorten any URL you are visiting.
Check Your Click Through Statistics
Bitly provides a number of statistical tools so you can track, manage and optimise for those links that are proving the most effective. Currently, you can sort links alphabetically, by click rate or by date.
View Your Peak Traffic and Sharing Data
It can also indicate location, peak periods and social statistics for your Bitly links. Cool, huh. Bitly allows you to see which times of day and what kind of content you should be maximising to improve your traffic and click through.
Bit.ly is a must-have tool for any social media manager. By tracking the clicks on your links you’re able to more accurately track performance of clicks on any webpage and adjust your web marketing campaigns to better build your prospects.
Hootsuite is pretty much a leader in social sharing automation. A good rule of thumb for a small business that wants to build authority is to maintain the 20/80 rule.
The rule states that of your social media posts, 20% should be from or about you and 80% should be from or about other people. That’s where HootSuite can streamline the process. With Hootsuite, you can automate a number of tasks as well as track and check trends across social media platforms.
With Hootsuite you are able to:
- Keep track and manage your many social network channels
- Monitor what people are saying about your bran
- view streams from multiple networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+
- Post updates or reply directly
- Monitor your Social reach and Statistics
- Establish Corporate Teams for organising your Social Media Campaign
How to use Hootsuite
One of the best features of Hootsuite is that you can use it to manage multiple social networks. They include:
- Facebook Profiles, Events, Groups & Pages
- LinkedIn Profiles, Pages & Groups
- Google+ Pages (currently not personal profiles)
- WordPress blogs
- Mixi (Japanese Social Network)
- Vimeo, via.me, reddit, StumbleUpon, Instagram, edocr, tumblr, evernote, flickr, get Satisfaction, mailchimp, slideshare, storify (via 3rd party apps)
Compose Social Media Content
Write and publish straight from the Hootsuite dashboard. Select which networks you want to share with and Go. The tool is simple to use and allows you to select any of your connected networks from a single interface.
You can include all your usual hashtags and Hootsuite will happily shorten your URL.
Schedule Tweets, Google Plus and other Social Media
With Hootsuite you can post immediately, select a preferred time or date. You can also allow Hootsuite to Automatically schedule it based on the best timer of day – the time most people are likely to be reading content on any of your social media platforms.
The only down side is that you may have to keep altering your time zone, depending on where you want your content to be read. As an alternative you can post several tweets or posts during optimal times by setting the schedule yourself and pasting the same content in.
View Trends and Mentions Through Streams
Once you set up an account and log in, HootSuite will guide you through the basics of connecting networks and organizing streams.
The green menu tab displays the networks connected to your HootSuite account. From there, select the streams you’d like to monitor, such as your timeline, mentions and scheduled tweets.
The stream options vary for each network (for example, Facebook’s options include News Feed, statuses, events and Wall posts), but the simple, no-frills layout remains the same.
(Thanks to Marissa for the images)
One of the things I really like about Hootsuite is that you can track Twitter conversations by selecting keywords in your search. Find out who’s mentioning your name, your company name, your products, services or even your latest blog posts. You can reply quickly because, even better than Google Alerts, Hootsuite gives you the information in real time.
Well, that’s a wrap.
If you want some help setting any of this up, give me a shout. If you know of some other genuinely free and genuinely useful Social Media Tools, let me know below.