Improving Social Media ROI: 16 Tools for Marketers on a Budget
When social networks first appeared, businesses weren’t quite sure what to do with them. Some banned them, fearing loss of productivity, while others fiddled with them fruitlessly. But over the years, some clever marketers realized their potential and developed budget social media tools that could be used by businesses to make the most of their promotional efforts, without breaking the bank.
Most social media venues are free to use. But on their own, they can be less-than-effective from a business standpoint. While traditional advertising is always an option, there are a variety of budget social media tools out there to help you get the job done and boost your ROI by saving you time, money, and energy- all while increasing your exposure.
Below you’ll find a set of diverse tools that can be used to help you do more with your social media accounts. Through innovation and intelligent design, these tools offer you solutions that solve several practical problems and help you to enhance your social media presence. Many of these tools have free features, and even when they do charge, the rates are reasonable enough to suit the needs of small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs.
Hootsuite is probably the best known application in this list. It allows you to schedule your social posts ahead of time in one sitting. While Facebook also lets you schedule posts, Hootsuite allows more flexible options and also gives you the option of scheduling in tandem with Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, and Instagram. They also mail you weekly analytics reports regarding post performance. You can use it for free if you have only one account, but you will have to pay up if you want to handle multiple accounts. Try it free for 30 days.
Buffer is similar to Hootsuite in terms of functionality, but offers certain added features that may be preferred by certain marketers. For instance, Twitter images scheduled on Hootsuite will get posted as links, while Buffer is able to render the pictures directly onto your Twitter timeline. If your content is visually heavy, this may be a good option for you.
Taking into account the number of followers, engagements, and ‘shares’ a person receives across different networks, Klout uses a rating scale of 1-100 to compute how prominent someone is on social media.
This ranking system helps businesses discover marketplace influencers; those with large followings who have an impact on the opinions of others. Klout scores can help you find people who are most likely to provide maximum ROI and show you how to best engage them in a manner that suits your business goals.
Twitter has encouraged a hashtag-obsessed culture. Keyhole is a service that allows users to track any hashtag on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. It shares the kind of activity a certain hashtag is generating in real time and also identifies the main influencers using that hashtag, so that you know which ones to use, and who to engage with.
Mention is an excellent tool to keep track of who is talking about you on social media. You can set an alert for your brand name or even your competitors’ brand name to find out who is discussing them across a variety of social networks. You can uncover any positive online mentions or shout outs and share them with your network. You can also spot any potentially negative ones and take corrective measures to sort out any issues.
Similar to Mention, Social Mention goes beyond social media to cover additional networks, blogs, news, and other possible web source. Using real-time statistics, it tells you not only about the keyword you search for but also gives you related keywords and their frequency of searches. You can also find the top users across social networks who are using the keywords in question.
Buzz Sumo is designed to help you search any topic and find out the best performing content on that particular topic. It tells you how the content is doing socially, in terms of shares and engagement, and also lets you know who the top influencers are. It can also assist you in generating content ideas by scouring other relevant content around the web.
Use this potent tool to run a variety of different Facebook activities like contests, polls, quizzes, and sweepstakes. It is designed to derive viral responses and it also provides excellent tracking and analytics for every activity you use it for. Agorapulse was primarily intended to be used with Facebook, but it has since expanded to work with both Twitter and Instagram.
Exquisite visuals are essential in social media. However, not everybody has graphic design skills, and it can expensive to hire a dedicated and talented designer. This is where Canva comes in. It’s an excellent online service that helps users create high-quality, eye-catching visuals. You can choose from various templates, fonts, and color palettes. You can also upload your own images to create arresting visuals with them at a very reasonable cost.
Shopify is a smart ecommerce solution that makes it easy to open an online store. It offers everything you need to get up and running quickly and affordably. This is particularly helpful for new businesses or existing businesses who need to streamline their systems while expanding their reach. It can also help you capitalize on your fans and followers by assisting you in opening a Facebook store. Simply upload product images and enter price and other details, Shopify will do the rest for you.
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Bit.Ly is an effective URL shortener. Many of us use it, but may not truly understand its strategic benefits. By shortening long, confusing premalinks, we can create more compact and sophisticated posts which are less cluttered and more effective. This is especially important on venues such as Twitter where space is very limited.
Infographics are a great way to enhance your content on both blogs and social media posts. People are captivated by these ‘mini stories‘ and are thus more likely to share them. With Infogram you can quickly and easily create engaging infographics just by entering your data into your choice of templates. Costs are reasonable and there’s no need to hire a designer.
SnapApp allows you to create a host of interactive content including small quizzes, sweepstakes, personality tests, and polls. These options go a long way towards developing addictive content that keeps your users engaged longer, and also compels them invite others to take part in the same.
Not unlike SnapApp, ContentTools allows users to create interactive content such as interactive Infographics and calculators for a variety of purposes. Although it’s a bit on the expensive side comparatively, marketers know that the more unique the content, the more potential it has to go viral.
Ceros is another tool designed to help create innovative and engaging content. You can create shoppable catalogues, interactive eBooks, and many other interesting pieces. Innovative marketing pieces can help you gain more traction in the face of extreme competition. Ceros-created elements are so unique that they’re very likely to garner plenty of attention.
Sprout Social is another budget social media management tool to help with just about any of your promotional needs. Sprout’s collaborative platform ensures smarter, faster, and more efficient social communications. From monitoring to post scheduling, publishing across networks and devices to team collaboration and more- there’s not much this well-rounded service doesn’t offer.
Sprout also boasts an awesome help desk, sophisticated analytics and unlimited custom reports all at very reasonable prices. Try Sprout Social for free, here.
Conclusion: Create A Custom Blend
Depending on your own unique needs and goals, you should be able to find a good combination of different tools that work for you. Ideally, you’ll have a tool specializing in each particular need. For instance, you may have one tool for scheduling, one for keyword or hashtag research, one for creating graphic content, one for arranging activities (such as contests), and another for analytics.
The right mix of tools will provide a potent ecosystem capable of churning out viral content to drive your business forward day after day.
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- Improving Social Media ROI: 16 Tools for Marketers on a Budget - September 1, 2015