Social media continues to be one of the biggest trends for small business marketing, but many small business owners are still trying to figure out the best way to use social media to find new customers and make more sales. It can be overwhelming to try to navigate the many complex social media tools and tactics – where is the right place to begin? And are there any social media tools – aside from the usual suspects like Facebook and Twitter – that can help your business grow?
We talked to several small business owners and small business marketing experts about which social media tools make the biggest difference for them – and the answers might surprise you!
AJ Fountain, Dr. Squatch Soap Co.
Our favorite is AgoraPulse. It allows us to monitor and respond to anyone communicating on our Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. AgoraPulse is especially handy because it allows us to monitor comments on our ads on Facebook. Facebook is one of our primary advertising channels and interacting with customers who are moving through our buying process in that early stage is crucial. Not just to those asking the questions and commenting on the ads, but to the many more that simply read the responses.
My greatest advice for social media marketing is to be human. When customers browse through the responses they’re often looking to see reviews and especially trying to find negative feedback because they love to see how companies respond. It is in those responses that you can engage with them in a voice of empathy and playfulness while still building trust that these are also real people on the other side of the conversation.
Jamal Asskoumi, CastleSmart.com
Everyone knows that social media platforms can and are used to build an audience of followers for a business, however, it can also be used differently. A tool called TwimeMachine allows you to look at the last 3,200 tweets of any Twitter user. This is great to “spy” on competitors – to see what types of content they are producing and promoting, how they interact with the audience and generally what they are doing better than you. Of course, from here, you can use this to influence your own ideas.
The tool is also great for networking as you’re able to find email addresses and contact information of other major influences just by looking through their tweets, which opens the door for conversation and possibilities.
Jess, Jess Creatives
I’m a graphic and web designer, and my #1 favorite social media tool is Edgar! Edgar has been life-changing for me as a solo entrepreneur because it keeps my social media presence consistent and engaging, while saving me hours of time every week. I’m able to constantly provide value to my audience and drive traffic to my website. It does take a little bit of work upfront to build your social media library, but after that, it’s super easy. The best way to get the most value out of Edgar is to set up many different categories and time slots within your posting schedule!
The below stats cover results from February–December 2015:
- 267 new likes on Facebook
- 843 new followers on Twitter
- 134 new email subscribers
- 48 percent of my clients found me on social media in all of 2015
Joe Balestrino, 4PointDigital
IFTTT is a social media tool that is really helpful, but that you don’t hear much about. It lets me take RSS feeds and push them to social media channels. Social media is okay to automate so long as you’re not setting and forgetting it. Hootsuite is another social media management tool that makes it easy to see what’s going and allows you a quick and easy way to engage with followers.
I’ve used IFTTT for a client that had tens of thousands of followers but no interaction. We helped the client by posting relevant stories from credible sources throughout the day. That, along with improved social media engagement, had orders coming in where previously those channels never produced sales for the client.
The best advice I can offer to small business owners is to get into the habit of knowing who the influencers are for your audience, share their content and reference them when you share yours. It can go a long way.
Candace Galek, BikiniLuxe
One of the keys to our success has been our successful Pinterest campaign. We use a tool called tailwind that has completely changed how we go about posting on Pinterest. It posts a picture to 30 boards with one press of a button, and we can schedule our posts to hit at the optimal times that people are on Pinterest. Tailwind is an absolutely fantastic tool! It has significantly cut down the amount of time that it takes for our employees to post.
Another great social media tool is foursixty.com. This is a tool we use to both schedule and tag our Instagram posts so that customers can purchase directly from the link. This is invaluable! It has completely changed our sales and lowered the number of “where can I get your Instagram product” questions by more than 80 percent. Anything we can do to limit the number of emails is always helpful, and it saves us both time and money.
For our social media influencers we use a fantastic program called Ninja Outreach. This allows us to manage our database as well as create templates to reach out to hundreds or sometimes thousands of people with one click of a button. We cannot only manage them but we can also do research and find new up-and-coming influencers. In our business and most businesses these days, finding good influencers to promote you is one of the true keys to success.
David Perkins, StudySoup
We use many web-based platforms at StudySoup. At the moment we use Hootsuite to post organic content to Twitter and Facebook. We use Adspresso to manage our paid advertising campaigns on Facebook and Instagram because it allows us to visualize our campaigns. Finally, we used TweetDeck to create a custom timeline of our favorite mentions.
We use these tools primarily to save time while working online. It takes time to schedule and monitor content online, so we use these tools to be able to quickly post or respond to our customers.
Michelle Garrett, Garrett Public Relations
Buffer is an absolute necessity! There’s a free version that should work fine for very small businesses that want to automate posting to Twitter and Facebook. For stock photos that have no restrictions on how you use them, I use Pixabay and Unsplash. Both are free.
I love that I found Buffer. It tweets for me on weekends and overnight – which are times I wasn’t posting before. My followers have grown and I’ve reached new audiences, as there are different users on Twitter late at night and on weekends. And, I’m using the free version, which works great for my needs. I’ve set up clients on it now that I’ve tried it and they have found it so easy to use.
Buffer has another tool called Pablo incorporated in it, which is easy to use to create images to accompany social media posts. Canva is absolutely great for creating images to go with blog posts or social media posts. It is free in some cases or very low cost in others.
Are there any other unexpected social media tools that your business can’t live without? Leave a comment and let us know.