aNewDomain.net — Businesses of all sizes benefit greatly when they engage their customers in a meaningful way. The challenge though, is using social media takes both time and effort, making it a task many small businesses put on the back burner. By carving out one hour a week and using these tools, your business can stop procrastinating with social media and — hopefully — make some more money.
Buffer is a simple web-based application that works on a freemium model. At no cost, you’re able to schedule posts to Twitter and Facebook. There’s a limit as to how many Tweets you can send with the free plan, so you’re not going to be able to schedule a month of content. Upgrading to the $10 a month plan also lets you add multiple Twitter and Facebook accounts, as well as a second login for collaboration.
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It’s a great tool. A key to social media success is consistency, and Buffer helps you communicate regularly with your customers. Buffer also offers a nifty Android app to help you manage your social media on the road.
Klout scores your social media efforts. The service has been criticized for being both unnecessary and opaque, but because of the way I use it Klout is a handy social media tool for me. The beauty of Klout is that once you’ve connected your social media accounts, at no charge to you, it will simply report back on your score and give you an idea if you’re doing better or worse than you were previously. For those who don’t want to spend a lot of time tracking social analytics, Klout is an easy way to get some feedback. Of course, the best arbiter of your efforts is your financial bottom line, but it can take time to see results there.
Rapportive isn’t a tool for broadcasting. It does one thing — help you connect with people you’re already engaged with—and does it well. This could include customers, colleagues or partners. Rapportive installs as an add-on for Gmail that works in Firefox, Safari, and Chrome. When you install Rapportive, a new column appears on the far right of your Gmail account. This column includes a wealth of information about the person you’re currently emailing. This could include Twitter and Facebook posts, or even his or her phone number from your contact list. I’ve found it extremely helpful by being up to date with the person’s social activity and stay meaningfully connected with the people I routinely email.
There are plenty of options for social media tools. Products and services like HootSuite, my fourth favorite tool, abound in this space. Every business will have a different experience with and expectation for social media. Some businesses won’t see dramatic results even when they work it.
Stay consistent with your efforts and find creative ways to engage your target audience. The rest, as they say, will happen.