By Corrie Oberdin • 1 May, 2014
When we do training sessions, we often ask what people use to manage their social media. Invariably, we find that when a businesses uses only one social network or channel to communicate with clients, they often use the native application (i.e., posting directly to Facebook, to Twitter, etc). However, when an organization has more than one account, and when those accounts (such as Twitter or LinkedIn) do not currently have scheduling features, they are much more likely to use a social media management tools.
Social Media Management tools are programs (often cloud based, though some have desktop options) that allow an individual or organization to monitor, post and interact with multiple social media channels at one time. Our current management system of choice is Hootsuite, provides monitoring for a large variety of social media channels, and posting and interaction capabilities for a slightly smaller number. However, in addition to Hootsuite, there are a wide variety of options. Other favorites of ours (and our clients) include Sprout Social, SocialFlow, and Buffer. Each of these (and the others we haven’t mentioned) do things differently, and work better for certain types of programs than others. However, all of them offer a few features in common that can benefit an organization looking to ramp up their social media presence:
Scheduled Posts: As most social media managers know, you can’t always be around when something needs to get posted. You may have a standing meeting at 1 pm on a Tuesday when a promotion is going to launch, or you may have an audience that checks their newsfeeds on Saturday morning at 8 am. Scheduled posts allow those items that you know are going to happen, and are prepared for, to go when and where they need to go. (Note that we also encourage doing unscheduled posts, but having a schedule is a lifesaver. Trust us.)
Dedicated Workflow: For those of you with a marketing team of one, feel free to skip this. But for those who have a team contributing to our social channels, or for those with strict posting policies, having a workflow for social posts, and an approval mechanism, can be key. Many Social Media Management tools offer workflow capabilities that can be invaluable to organizations with either issues surrounding legal & compliance or those with multiple cooks in the kitchen.
One Stop Shopping: Monitoring social channels can be a full time job. Most Social Media Management Systems provide at least monitoring for a wide number of social networks – from Instagram to Facebook to YouTube. While not all of them allow for posting capabilities (Instagram in Hootsuite, for example, is view-only, though you can share content to your other networks), just having your accounts in one place to keep your eye on can be invaluable.
Reporting: Most Social Media Management Systems also offer reporting capabilities, frequently both on an individual channel level and cross channel. While we (and many of our clients) like to look at the rich data offered by Facebook or Twitter on an individual basis, it can be very helpful to review cross channel data provided by our social management tool of choice.
There are a wide variety of Social Media Management Systems out there, and while we have our favorites, there are a great many in use. We recommend that before you commit to a program, you test out a few of them to see which one works best for your team and your organization.