The COVID-19 pandemic hit our global economic landscape like a meteor, cratering many businesses and causing disruptions in previously-steady revenue streams. Marketing teams endured seismic shifts in especially painful ways: tighter budgets, downsizing, doing more with less. But even as they took a sizable hit, marketers still had to do their jobs, meet or exceed company goals, and rock the social media scene.
Social media has evolved beyond what was once a nice to have. It’s become a must-have, particularly for brands that want to break through the chatter. As a July 2020 DataReportal snapshot revealed, more than half the world’s population uses social media. Nearly 400 million eyes are glued to YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and other social sites, according to Pew Research.
How can you make sure your company stays front and centre on social media while keeping frugality in mind? One answer is to revitalize your tech stack, pronto. The right social media tools offer unprecedented levels of automation and analysis without requiring any human intervention. However, knowing which tool to try (or eventually buy) can be tricky. If you’re unsure how to effectively build buzz without burning out your team, take a closer look at these four categories of social media tools. They can help attract high-value prospects and fill your pipeline in a way that won’t strain human or financial resources.
1. Set it and Forget it Content Scheduling Platforms
How do you convince the company decision-makers that social media works and is worth an investment? Setting up a Facebook business page or YouTube channel isn’t a challenge for most businesses. The problem comes with trying to consistently populate those platforms with new, relevant content while juggling your more-pressing demands. Over time, a neglected and outdated business page will fail to gain traction. Worse, untended content can do more harm than good as inaccurate information negatively shapes the perceptions of those who are giving your company a sincere look.
Clay McDaniel, CEO of social media tool provider Ripl, agrees that pushing out content once every blue moon is common but problematic. His recommendation? Whip out batches of professional-looking posts ahead of time, set them for timed release on your platforms, and move on.
As McDaniel explained, “Social media management tools allow you to schedule your posts to automatically publish to your feeds at selected times. You can schedule a whole week’s worth of posts and updates whenever you have a few minutes to spare.”
Your company will still need to commit staff time to a social media production calendar that includes when and where new content will be posted. Nonetheless, being able to program everything into one portal will save tons of time — and face.
Related Article: Social Media Trends to Consider in Your 2021 Marketing Strategy
2. Tracking and Listening Tools
Social media trends can change on a minute-by-minute basis. Depending on the size of the accompanying avalanche, it can quickly become impossible to manually keep up with where your business falls in the mix. For example, a positive brand mention might go unnoticed for days, weeks or even months. You might miss it altogether.
Responding quickly to anything pertaining to your company online is a highly-prized social media asset as it keeps message control in your court. Being on top of brand mentions can also help reduce confusion, improve customer experiences, and position you in a favorable light.
Many companies can’t afford to dedicate one of their marketing staff members to monitor online mentions across multiple platforms. These companies typically opt for tools such as Buzzsumo as an automated means of keeping up with trending names and phrases.
Writing on behalf of the Sprout Social platform, Brent Barnhart offers several data-driven takeaways from a 2020 survey on expectations of social media users. “Simply offering support via social isn’t enough anymore: brands need to mind their speed when it comes to responding to customers,” wrote Barnhart. “The need to respond to social queries is a no-brainer. Nobody wants to purposely ignore their customers.”
Evaluate different providers to see which social listening solutions and add-ons might prove best for your needs. Packages can include anything from the ability to gather and analyze data to mapping the spread and impact of trends. Do your research, then take something for a test drive. You can always switch to an alternative if you don’t get the results you want. But you won’t be nearly as likely to miss a shoutout.
Related Article: For Marketing Success, It’s Important to Zig When Others Zag
3. Account Security Tools
Unfortunately, online crime didn’t take a hiatus during the pandemic. It’s an ever-growing concern, and having your brand hacked can be devastating and expensive. Data collected by McAfee suggests nearly a quarter of social media users have been hacked. For individuals, being hacked is embarrassing and confusing. For a company like yours, it could result in days or weeks of serious damage control. Just ask HBO or the United States Central Command. Their accounts were recently taken over by cybercriminals.
Cybercriminals are well aware that the pandemic caused a shift in how we do business. The increase in online shopping, touchless transactions, and a multitude of new players entering into online sales have provided a “smokescreen” of sorts for cybercrime. According to noted cybersecurity expert Prof. Nicholas Davis, “[Criminals] are using interest and attention to an issue as a way to get clicks and take advantage of changed behavior.”
Rather than joining the ranks of those who’ve been compelled to deal with hacking, opt to put security measures and robust password-protection protocols in place. It doesn’t cost a fortune to ensure that you don’t wake up to confused or angry social followers. You are more likely to save money by protecting yourself against a ransomware attack.
Related Article: What the SolarWinds Hack Tells Us About the State of Cybersecurity
4. Analytics Reporting
Facebook and Instagram both offer basic analytics programs tied to your business page. However, you may want to take a deeper dive into the value and engagement of your posts. If so, consider looking into tech options that offer comprehensive analytics reports.
What types of analytics are considered important to capture and review? “Likes” and “Shares” top the list, as do the number of comments a post receives. You’ll also want to look for impressions and reach to get some sense of how your message is spreading. You may also want to check click-throughs to landing pages and sales conversions. Even your internal response rate to comments and tags can be helpful to evaluate if you’re actively improving client experience.
One caveat: it’s not effective to chase down every data point. It’s far too easy to get yourself off in the weeds. Still, the more data you have at your fingertips, the farther you can drill down. The right tools can make this process surprisingly efficient and fast, fetching real-time information without eating up your time.
Mastering social media as a business marketer takes time, patience, and a bit of trial and error. Investing in solid tech tools can dramatically shorten your learning curve without requiring that you add staff. The main thing is that you’ll be able to engage with high-value audiences in a substantial way, no matter the size of your team.
Currently serving as a communications director for Oracle, Steve Olenski is a true unicorn in that he has the unique ability to combine real-world marketing experience with a highly impressive journalistic background. A regular contributor to Forbes for 10 years, his work has also appeared in other leading publications including AdAge, Adweek, Business Insider, Huffington Post, Marketing Land, MarTech Today, ESPN among many others.