For anyone operating in the enterprise space in 2014, there’s no way to ignore the pervasiveness of social media. Virtually every organization, from consumer brands to nonprofit organizations to B2B providers, has developed a presence on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. And this is for good reason – a well-managed and well-executed social media strategy can do a lot to drive traffic to your website, strengthen awareness around your brand and drive qualified leads.
But developing and maintaining such a strong strategy is easier said than done. According to Altimeter Group, a research and advisory firm, global corporations are attempting to manage an average of 178 business-related social media accounts, and that number is expected to grow.
To address this trend, social media management software platforms are popping up left and right to help companies balance and manage several accounts simultaneously while ensuring their message and branding is consistent. You may have heard of some of these software options – Hootsuite, Tweetdeck or Hubspot, for example – but the list of providers is growing rapidly.
There are several tech trends, namely mobile, cloud and analytics, that are shaping the evolution of media management software. These technologies, coupled with the plethora of social media channels and related media management tools on the market, makes choosing the right platform a challenge. Here are a few things to look for when considering the best social media management tools for your organization.
The explosive use of mobile devices, both from consumers and businesses, has deep implications for social media management. The share of smartphones in the U.S. grew from 18 percent to 62 percent in the four years between 2009 and 2013, according to a recent report from Nielsen. And when we’re looking at our screens, 80 percent of our time is spent in apps, according to Flurry, an app analytics firm. So what does this have to do with social media? Well, it’s safe to say that in 2014, more of your customers will see your message on their smartphone or tablet rather than their computer screens. And marketing teams will be using mobile devices to manage their brand more and more as well. When it comes to managing your social media strategy, look for a platform that has a really solid mobile interface – you’ll want the best control over how your message is presented and is viewed and discovered by customers as they’re on the move.
With the rapid adoption of cloud software, enterprise team members can now access important data, brand content and social media accounts anytime, anywhere. We recently laid out why the cloud is so important for strategic brand management, and the same principals apply to social media as well. The strongest media management software platforms will be cloud-based, allowing marketers to be nimble and agile with their message at all times, regardless of location.
Even if you have the most sophisticated and nuanced social marketing campaigns to suit your brand, your message stands to be lost in the crowd without the appropriate measurement and analytics tools. Basic social media analytics are generally built into your average media management software, so take advantage of the insights that data can bring to your team. And more sophisticated (often more expensive) platforms include things like sentiment analysis to help you take the temperature of your target audience before addressing them via social media. However deep you go with the technology, data analysis is a crucial part of an effective social media management strategy.
Scrolling through your own Facebook and Twitter feeds, you’ll observe that content is increasingly being presented in visual formats. Facebook recently announced that video ads would automatically play in a user’s newsfeed, and advertisers recently gained access to the social network’s hit photo sharing app, Instagram. Add to that the consistent popularity of YouTube and the burgeoning success of Pinterest, and it is hard to miss the impact of visual content in today’s marketing world. When evaluating media management software options, make sure your platform has built-in visual content management tools and integrate well with services like Instagram and YouTube.
The different social media channels you distribute your messages on will likely vary as well. For example, a “How-To” or “Tips and Tricks” post is better suited for LinkedIn and Facebook rather than Pinterest or Instagram, whereas a beautifully designed infographic will see better success on more visual channels. A strong media management software platform will give you and your marketing team access to all of the relevant social media channels, and metrics to compare performance across these channels, to ensure your branding and messaging is as effective as possible. Most social media management software options support the basic networks, like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. To stay as current as possible, choose a platform that supports a wide range of social media channels, from Pinterest to LinkedIn.
Virtually every social media management software platform on the market today offers businesses the core functions and tools to establish a basic, effective social media strategy. These fundamentals include the ability to create, schedule, moderate and publish content, track social engagement, pull up relevant analytics and reports and collaborate across teams. Some additional tools that may help you differentiate your social media strategy include sentiment analysis, marketing automation and integration with existing marketing or advertising software.