If you’re using social media as a marketing platform, then you’re probably making use of a few different tools to help you become more productive. With a good tool in your arsenal, you can get better results, more engagement, more leads and more traffic from your social media.
Social media offers immense possibilities to B2B marketers. Whereas years ago many considered LinkedIn as the only truly viable platform for B2B marketing, the truth is that most of the top social networks – Facebook, Twitter, Google+ – can be amazing sources of success; it’s not just regular customers that are using these platforms, but also businesses. Not to mention, social media can help you raise your brand awareness, get more traffic to your website and blog and connect with influencers.
Social media management tools are designed to help you achieve these goals (well, at the very least some of them!) by providing you with the apps and tools you need, all under one roof so that you don’t need to pay or lose time using other tools.
But with so many social media dashboards to choose from, it can get difficult to find the option that will truly help your business. Ian Anderson Gray from Seriously Social and G2Crowd have created an infographic on the top social media management tools of the year and attempted to rate them based on customer reviews of each tool. In this post, I will be going through the five tools mentioned and their main features in order to discover the best options for B2B social media marketers.
Social media management and B2B marketing
When it comes to B2B marketing, there are really three main social networks that truly work, more often than not: LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. The first, because it is a social network dedicated to professionals. The last two, because everyone is on these platforms: regular users and companies. While it differs from case to case, there is a good chance you’ll find your target audience on these networks whatever line of work you are in. It’s important then, when deciding on a social media management tool, to make sure it allows you to publish and engage on these networks – and any others that you might be using. Thankfully, all 5 of the tools mentioned work with the 3 social networks.
Mentions and notifications
Keeping track of all your mentions and notifications and making sure you never miss one, is much easier with a social media management tool. Agorapulse, Sprout Social and Sendible do this best – all three have a so-called social inbox where you get all of your notifications that you can then assign to different members of your team and cross them off as you respond to them or take any action. Agorapulse also allows you to set up automated moderation of your social inbox, so that the tool can tag, flag, assign and even hide content for you. Once you’ve set up this feature to your liking, it can really help you save a lot of time, particularly if you get a lot of notifications.
Publishing and engagement
One of the biggest attractions when it comes to social media management tools is that they allow you to publish and schedule updates and engage with users on your various social accounts, all from one single dashboard. This is something that each of the five tools do well, particularly Buffer, since it is a bit of a special case and this is its only feature. Another great feature that all the tools have is that you can check your queue of scheduled updates in an editorial calendar, which makes it easier to see which days/hours require your attention.
When it comes to engagement, though, it’s the other tools that really shine. With Agorapulse and Sprout Social, for example, you get to see more complete user profiles for any user and both of them, as well as Sendible and Hootsuite, allow you to see past conversations you’ve held with users.
Monitoring is an important feature as it can help you identify opportunities on social – it can be anything from engagement opportunities to discovering potential leads. All of the tools, except for Buffer (which as I’ve mentioned earlier focuses on publishing and scheduling only), allow you to set up monitoring for keywords and hashtags.
This is a good feature for tracking any mention of your brand on social media, as well as for finding discussions to participate in and identifying leads. Sendible takes things one step further, by allowing you to monitor the entire social web, including blogs and reviews sites, not just social networks.
Customer relationship management
A good CRM tool is very important, especially as your connections list grows, as it can help you keep track of your friends and followers and identify potential influencers and leads.
The best tools at this are, again, Agorapulse, Sprout Social and Sendible. All three have very good CRM capabilities. Agorapulse excels with its features for identifying potential brand ambassadors and influencers and for automatically qualifying your followers if they have engaged with you in the past or published content about you. Sendible, on the other hand, have prospecting tools to help you generate leads and also integrates with email and SMS marketing.
Analytics and insights
Analytics are extremely important as they can help you identify any potential cracks in your social media strategy and they also help highlight the areas that need more of your attention.
When it comes to social media analytics, it’s important to focus on the metrics that matter – those that help you take action and improve your strategy. Numbers of likes or followers might make you feel good if the numbers are growing, but they don’t exactly help you improve in any way. But if you’re looking at the traffic you’re getting from social media, for example, good analytics can help you find a way of improving that traffic. Perhaps you’re getting more traffic because of the type of updates you’re sending – can you make the most of that and publish more updates like that? Or maybe you’re getting more traffic on certain days of the week; it might be worth sending more updates and engaging more during those times.
Most of the tools offer some analytics. Personally, though, I am partial to Agorapulse and Sendible. The first, for its beautiful reports with key metrics that you can easily export to PowerPoint to share with your team or board, and the latter for its drag and drop custom report builder and the integration with Google Analytics.
There’s a reason these tools are featured in the infographic and constantly battling for the top places in each of the categories. They are all good tools, four of them as full-suite dashboards, and one as a publishing and scheduling platform. The best though, I would argue, are Agorapulse and Sprout Social, both due to their features and to their beautiful, easy to use interfaces. Which social media management tool do you prefer?