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Social media is more important than ever, with businesses drooling at the prospect of a generation of tech-savvy millennials. With such precedence being placed on channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, the question is: how can you use social media channels quickly and efficiently? Enter a plethora of social media tools. Here is a definitive list of the five most effective social media tools you can use today.

If your brand is already on Facebook, check out our previous article on how to gain more likes and expand your page’s reach.

Why social media should be a key player in your marketing mix

credit: smartinsights

With so many potential customers now using social media networks (and some using multiple different ones), it would be a real shame for your brand to miss out on the action. Social media can open the floodgates to infinite engagement with your prospects. Facebook has the most active monthly users, at a staggering 1.871 million, as we can see from the graph above. With such vast figures, it’s clear that if you want your business to be a success, you need to focus enough attention on your social feeds.


Hootsuite

Hootsuite is a social media management platform that allows you to externally schedule and track your social channels. In 2016, Hootsuite surpassed 15 million users – so it’s surely worth a look.

Hootsuite is perfect for the busy social media manager handling numerous channels who wants to centralise streams, allowing the rest of the team access without sharing sensitive information. Bulk posts can be scheduled in advance on a selection of channels, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+. There’s also nifty tracking software that automates engagement reports based solely on content scheduled through the platform.

Hootsuite offers a free trial for one month and an entry-level plan at around £7.70 per month, leading all the way up to more than £16 per month for business-wide plans.

Hootsuite benefits

  • Centralisation of channels to one user-friendly dashboard
  • Team management facility – no password sharing!
  • Bulk Message Scheduler
  • Compatibility with numerous channels and mobile platforms
  • Regular analytics reports

So, if you’re struggling to manage all of your social feeds, perhaps you should consider using a platform like Hootsuite.


Canva

Canva has been dubbed the “easiest to use design program in the world” – and it really is.

Canva is a graphic design program that allows you to create beautiful and professional-looking designs, edit photos, add text, stickers, frames and much more. It takes only a few seconds to get up and running. Canva allows you to choose your own photos or select from over one million layouts, stock photos and illustrations. You can search for fonts, photo filters and shapes to customise your design.

These designs can be shared straight onto social media, email and apps – or exported to a camera roll. Canva also has an ultra-convenient app for mobile users. What’s not to love, right?

Canva benefits

  • Creates effective, consistent images
  • A library of existing stock images available
  • Images can be downloaded or posted directly from the website
  • The ability to create banners and infographics, perfect for social media
  • Canva is completely free for personal use, although most stock images are only available with the premium version. They are still not too expensive; it depends on the image in question. Business packages are around £7.70 per month, when paid annually

IFTTT

IFTTT or “If this then that” is an ingenious free tool for social media marketers to automate processes based on events and outcomes.  

For example, the “If this” could be an article posted on a specific website. The “Then That” could be that the article is automatically shared on your channels. These processes are referred to as “recipes”. Existing recipes can be downloaded, or bespoke ones created for a specific purpose.

The difficulty with IFTTT (and why you may not of heard of it) is its slightly complex nature. But once you’ve overcome the initial learning curve, a world of possibilities opens up, ranging from saving ‘liked’ Instagram pictures to a Dropbox account, to sending yourself a phone call to get out of a meeting.

IFTTT benefits

  • Powerful free software
  • Links together outwardly separate applications
  • Unlimited possibilities for recipes = increased productivity

BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo is the holy grail of finding popular online content at the click of a button.

BuzzSumo can be used in a number of ways; firstly, it’s a useful tool for finding out what’s working for your competitors. Enter their domain, and their most popular content is listed and filtered by time frame. This means you can get a really good grasp on what’s popular in your industry by investigating a few competitors. The same principle can be applied to search terms/niches such as ‘social media marketing’, for example.

With the Pro plan, even more features are available, including monitoring keywords and authors, domains and more.

Buzzsumo benefits

  • Can be used as a free tool (although admittedly limited)
  • Excellent for getting a grip on what’s hot in your industry
  • Find out who is posting, sharing and build lists of influencers
  • Great for keeping tabs on your competitors and their strategies

Quill Engage

Quill Engage is an invaluable tool that condenses your (sometimes confusing) Google Analytics stats into a palatable and customised report, direct to your inbox. It’s great way of keeping tabs on referral traffic and ensuring that you are gettung value from your social media investment.

In a convenient and human way, Quill Engage summarises your analytics on a regular basis (defined by you), and presents this to you as an email report.

This is an exceptionally useful tool for even the most experienced marketers and social media managers. The basic option is free, with premium being around £38 per month.

Quill Engage benefits

  • Condenses and summarises KPIs in a readable way
  • Sends reports directly to your inbox
  • Team integration
  • Customised reports and parameters

How can you integrate social media into your business?

So, you now know why social media is integral to your brand’s success, and you know about the latest tools to help you on your way. But how can you directly integrate social media into your brand’s marketing mix and ecommerce site? If you know this, you will be more likely to expand your brand’s outreach, boost your social followings and potential revenue.

If you run an ecommerce store on WordPress, there’s a wide variety of social media plugins at your disposal. From Kiwi Social Sharing to Social Warfare, there’s a plugin to suit your needs. You can read more about these here. Shopify’s online store integrates well with most social networks and allows you to place click-through links to your accounts on your ecommerce site. With CMSs like Magento and Drupal, you can pretty much build your own social media environment from scratch — here are some Magento extensions to consider.

However, if you’re struggling to manage your social media – don’t fret. Companies like Lobster Digital Marketing offer social media management and can take your social feeds out of your hands, allowing you to focus on other things. 

Have we missed out any tools that you use? Get in touch and let us know!

Gareth Simpson – Technical SEO & Startup Founder Gareth is an SEO pro with over a decade in the industry. Now based in Bristol, UK, his specialisms are blogger outreach and content. You’ll find him at his desk, drinking green tea and working on his latest campaign.

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