I presented recently a Webinar for Virginia Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network entitled, Social Media Tools for Small Business. I’m thinking that might be a good annual tradition as Social Media tools come, go and change according to market needs. Below are the tools I spoke of (and some I didn’t have a chance to) with brief commentary for context. Let me know if you have any questions about any of the tools, and if you think I’ve left any important Social Media tools off the list!
Google Marketing Platform is a suite of tools built for Small Business, including Google Analytics (a free tool for collecting data from social, ecommerce, email, website traffic, and more, to make good business decisions), Google Tag Manager (for managing UTM codes on your website, Google Optimize (allows A/B testing of websites and apps), Google Data Studio (pulls in data from disparate locations and makes sense of it visually) and Google Surveys (allows you to question real people for market research, affordably).
Start your Social Media strategy correctly by identifying the keywords and key phrases people are searching and engaging with on Social Media and the Web. From there, you can determine what content to create and what platforms and social media tools will be appropriate to market your business.
It’s imperative that you know what people are writing on the Web about you, your business, your industry, products/services, key employees and competition. Setup email/RSS feeds to track your brand and reputation with Google Alerts.
Service after the sale is a phrase to internalize in your business. Freshdesk is a customer service support tool (connected to the larger Freshworks suite of tools) that can monitor Social Media (and email, phone, Web chat, and more) for handling customer service messages, tickets and more.
Password Managers to Keep Track of all the Usernames and Passwords on Social Media
Beyond the cybersecurity benefits of a good password manager (such as the three below), this will make your business (and personal) life much easier when tracking and sharing passwords to the plethora of social media tools and services for which you need to login.
Create Your Own Social Network
If you believe that creating your own social network, online community or forum embedded on, as a replacement of or in partnership with your own website would be smart strategically for your business and target audience, these social media tools are for you.
Built by the free, open source software community of developers, BuddyPress is a social network plugin for self-hosted WordPress websites/blogs. It’s easy and setup takes about five minutes.
The original social-network-in-a-box, Ning continues to be a strong platform, that if you want to build easily a social platform, you can do so with Ning…now with monetization options similar to Mighty Networks, and again, I hope they add the ability to do paid event registration in the future.
CEO Gina Bianchini built Ning (see above) and left it to build Mighty Networks, as a platform for creators to corral their social community under a single roof and ultimately make money from the content published there, including membership and online courses. (I hope they add event registration fee options, too!)
If you’d like to create a more open conversation community, Discourse (self-hosted on your website) is the best online forum tool I’ve seen to date. It will require a designer/developer to help you get it setup, but if this will be your main social platform, it’s worth it.
If you need the easiest possible way to add an online forum to your website, Website Toolbox to the rescue. It’s a competent tool that has good customization and easy implementation.
If you use G Suite, Google Sites and are steeped in the Google ecosystem and need a blog integrated with your other Google properties, Blogger is alive and well and worth considering. It can host your blog, video blog (using YouTube for hosting the video), and podcasts (using a separate media host).
When you need to take your blogging to a more customized level, and you want your website and social publishing platform to be one and the same, there’s no better choice than WordPress IMHO. Reach out if you have questions about WordPress hosting and we’ll be happy to help with strategy (even if you don’t host with us).
Decided to listen and set up some Google Alerts about you and your business? Interested in getting inspiration from other bloggers/podcasters? Do you want to keep up-to-date on industry blogs? Feedly is the place to manage it all. Great Web and mobile apps!
Presentations, infographics, documents and more can be uploaded to SlideShare (owned by LinkedIn) as part of a content marketing strategy for sharing/lead generation, or even as a downloadable lead magnet from your website/blog.
Similar to SlideShare above, but it allows you to upload books, magazines, audiobooks, sheet music, and more to the platform. You can also embed this content as a lead magnet and sell the content, too.
Add social proof notifications to your website, blog or podcast to increase conversions on your ecommerce-enabled sites (it can be product or service-based). This is a subtle yet powerful tool.
Messaging & Chat
The next few links and tools cover the wide variety of tools available to create one-to-one and (more important to the social discussion here) group chat with your target audience in apps and on your website.
The current best mobile messaging apps on the market today. My favorite is hands down Telegram for its ubiquity (apps for all major platforms), being open source, and so many features always coming out.
This is as it says, the most secure collaboration platform, if you need a messaging app to move social conversations to a secure, private channel. The biggest hurdle is getting potential and current clients to signup and install the app.
A solid website live chat tool. We’ve implemented this on dozens of client sites and we’ve always had positive experiences. Live chat increases sales for well-trafficked websites, so it’s worth considering implementing on your blogs and podcast sites, too.
Facebook Messenger Chat on Your Website
https://www.facebook.com/<Facebook Page vanity name here>/settings/?tab=messenger_platformChange <Facebook Page vanity name here> to your Facebook Page’s (e.g., w3consultinginc) to get to the Settings page.
If much or all of your audience is also on Facebook, this tool is free website live chat you can implement in a few minutes. Make sure you have the Facebook Messenger app on your smartphone. You can also add the “Message Us” button to your website anywhere you’d like.
These tools provide hosting, editing, interviewing tools wrapped in different interfaces. Review each before deciding what’s best for you. Either way, I always recommend that you have separate media hosting (except with Anchor as it doesn’t allow it). Don’t rely on platforms that may go away at any time and leave you scrounging for a media host and the loss of audience.
Social Media Scheduling/Management
For all its faults, Hootsuite is still the reigning champion of Social Media scheduling and management for its value for the price, features and integration abilities.
These six above are different Instagram scheduling/management tools with varying features. Some of our clients like them for different reasons, so if IG is your main Listening and/or Connecting platform, you may like one of these over Hootsuite or Buffer.
While I advocate you create a page on your own website for Instagram’s link in bio, if you want an easy tool to manage multiple links, try Linktree’s free version.
The following two tools give you the ability to run contests and giveaways using Social Media and other actions as entries. I believe Gleam is the most visually appealing of the two.
Canva is the Social Media design tool of choice today. We actually do all of our agency design work for clients now in Canva. (Sorry, Adobe Creative Cloud!) Lesser known, Canva provides you with a small but competent design school to learn good graphic design and how to use Canva to do it…free.
To take your main social profile or a variety of Social Media channels and embed that activity on your website or blog, Juicer does the job. We use it on our website here.
Bitly is a URL shortener to turn https://w3cinc.com/6014/011-gdpr-for-small-business-what-you-need-to-know-about-the-general-data-protection/ into https://w.w3cinc.com/gdpr. Great, huh? The other benefit is that if you’re trying to track where website traffic came from by connecting your UTM codes (see above discussion regarding Google Marketing Platform) with Bitly and Google Analytics.
Sniply takes Bitly to a new level, by inserting an overlay when Social Media users click on your short URLs. The messages can be to lead magnets, sales pitches, event marketing, and more!
Social Media Automation
These two powerful tools allow you to connect and automate various Social Media. Once you start using these, you will not know how you survived before you had them. My favorite IFTTT applet (automations) is the Instagram to Native Twitter Image post! Zapier allows you to create multiple zaps (automations) that execute altogether, taking your workflows to the next level. For example, you can have someone complete a Mailchimp form, that triggers an email with a PDF to them, a new lead added to your CRM, followed by a tweet or IG post that you just started working with a new potential customer, and then a task added to your to-do app letting you know to follow up with that person tomorrow. How’s that for productivity?!
I hope you’ve gotten a few new Social Media tools you can use for your Small Business! If you have a question or comment, leave one below or shoot us a message. Here’s to your Social – Local – Mobile Success!