Be productive in managing your social channels
Guest post by Megan Totka
Chief Editor, ChamberofCommerce.com
You already know that being active on social media is an essential ingredient in your online marketing strategy. But who’s got time to be on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn all day? Fortunately, there are some great programs out there that let you coordinate all your social media activity in one dashboard, so you can spend less time posting and tweeting — and more time on your core business.
These third-party programs come with features like multiple account management, content syndication, scheduled tweets and posts, link shortening, and more. Here’s our roundup of the best social media dashboards and the benefits they can bring your small business.
1Easy to use and packed with features, Hootsuite is probably the most widely known social media dashboard. It’s also free with basic features, and you can upgrade inexpensively to a pro version.
HootSuite lets you manage your Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn accounts, and you can also toss in Google+, Foursquare, WordPress, and MySpace. The platform offers apps that allow you to monitor and manage Flickr, YouTube, Tumblr, and more — including marketing tools such as MailChimp or Constant Contact.
The free version includes message scheduling and basic analytics. The pro upgrade offers advanced scheduling tools and analytics, including integration with Google Analytics, and HootSuite University, a social media training and certification program.
Cost: The basic version is free for one user and up to five accounts. HootSuite Pro starts at $5.99 a month with a 30-day free trial, and gives you two users and unlimited accounts.
2VerticalResponse, the popular email and social media marketing company, created VerticalResponse Social to provide a comprehensive marketing service for small businesses. This platform blends social media and email tools and is perfect for anyone who’s pressed for time (isn’t every small business owner?). It’s also a great “social media for dummies” tool — if you’re not too savvy about social media, VerticalResponse Social practically handles it for you.
Features of this platform include:
- Support for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn
- Scheduling up to 30 days in advance for single updates and entire marketing campaigns, including mobile scheduling
- Customizable content library for common industry websites, with suggested content based on your industry
- Coupon generation and sharing tool
- Social Search that returns social media results for keywords like your company, your products or services, or any relevant term
- Analytics and reporting
Cost: There’s just one pricing tier for unlimited use: $18 per month, with a free 30-day trial to check it out.
3An all-in-one dashboard that throws in listening and monitoring data, Postling not only lets you manage multiple social media accounts, but also scours the Web and sends instant notifications when your business is mentioned on review sites like Yelp or TripAdvisor.
This platform offers an aggregate screen that pulls your accounts together in a centralized stream. It’s compatible with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr, WordPress, and YouTube. There’s also an iPhone app, and one for Android coming soon.
Cost: Up to five social media accounts will run you $5 a month, and it’s $3 per month each for additional accounts.
4With perhaps the best-looking and most convenient interface, SproutSocial has an engaging dashboard and a Messages view that streams all your account activity into a single feed. The “Smart Inbox” feature also collects your direct social media messages, including mentions on Twitter and Facebook, in an email interface.
SproutSocial includes advanced post and Tweet scheduling, and some pretty powerful analytics that report on your followers’ demographics and make suggestions for message improvement.
Cost: The SmallBiz plan from SproutSocial includes up to 20 social accounts, and runs $39 per month with a free 30-day trial.
5With Sendible, you can pull in the big three — Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn — as well as a long list of blogging platforms and image sharing sites. The platform includes aggregate and monitoring tools, advanced scheduling, analytics and tracking, and a suite of autoresponders for email and social networks.
One of the best features of Sendible is the ability to drill down on social networks, letting you choose specific locations to post: a Facebook album, page or profile, your LinkedIn Group or status, lists or streams on Twitter, and more.
Cost: Most small businesses will do great with the Marketer plan, which includes up to 30 accounts for $30 a month, with a risk-free 30-day trial.
6A platform specifically for social analytics, Crowdbooster can be used in conjunction with your social media dashboard of choice, or by itself for micro-businesses concentrating on the major social media networks only. This tool works with Facebook and Twitter to review and analyze posts, and recommends timing, topics, and engagement targets to increase your social media effectiveness.
The platform also provides alerts and insights, scheduling, URL shorteners, and some monitoring capabilities.
Cost: The Bronze level, at $9 per month, covers one Facebook and one Twitter account. Silver gives you a total of 10 accounts for $39 a month, and Gold is $99 per month for up to 30 accounts.
• Top 5 CRM platforms for small business (Socialmedia.biz)