5 Essential Social Media Marketing Tools
Many professions are defined – at least in some small way – by the tools connected to the trade. Carpenters, for instance, bring to mind hammers, nails, and power tools. Stethoscopes characterize doctors almost too often, and there is a deep connection between police officers and their guns, badges, and handcuffs.
But what about social media marketers? Which tools represent us?
That’s the question this article attempts to answer. But more than that, in the sections below, I will present you with five essential tools social media marketers use to do their work.
Now, of course, we’re talking about digital tools. You cannot pick up a content management system the same way you can pick up a hammer (or at least you shouldn’t try). But digital tools are just as useful to our trade as many physical tools are to other trades.
So, without delay, let’s open up our social media marketing toolbox and have a peak inside!
1. Social Media Management Tool
The first tool we’re looking at is probably the most universal when it comes to social media management. It is essentially the foundation or hub of all of our marketing activities on social channels.
Some call it a “social media dashboard,” or a “social media engagement platform,” but regardless of whatever you want to call it, the function it performs is quite clear.
Social media management tools bring together all of the various social media channels that we might use for a specific brand or campaign and give us a centralized means of publishing, monitoring, and engaging with them.
Of those three, my personal favorite is SproutSocial, if you’re looking for a robust, all-in-one solution. In fact, I recently wrote an in-depth review of SproutSocial and also interviewed their community manager on my podcast. Talk about being a fan, right?
But if you’re in the market for a social media management platform, don’t take my word for which one to use. All three of these major players offer free trials. I strongly encourage you to try them out and see which works best for your needs and your budget.
And once you dive in, you’ll see that all of them pretty much have the same core functions. You’re able to schedule social media content across your social channels, discover new people and conversations across your networks, engage with folks who are talking about your brand or common interests, and get a glimpse of your overall performance through analytics reports.
So, in a nutshell, you’re able to publish, discover, engage, and analyze. That’s basically what a social media management platform will allow you to do.
2. Content Discovery Tool
Another important tool in a social media marketer’s bag of tricks is something that allows him or her to discover the hottest content in a given niche.
Think of this as your source of continual inspiration for future social content, blog posts, podcast episodes, etc.
The tool that I use most frequently for this is BuzzSumo. If you’re not familiar with it, BuzzSumo is a social research and discovery tool, that allows you to analyze what content performs best for any topic or competitor.
For instance, if I want to write a blog post about widgets, I can type “widgets” into BuzzSumo, and see which articles about widgets performed the best over a given date range. This is a great way to gauge which specific stories about widgets people are most interested in.
Moreover, I can even export a list of everyone who has shared a certain post about widgets, if I want to connect with them in the future.
There are a ton of other features of BuzzSumo which I haven’t covered. But if this sounds even slightly useful for your marketing efforts, check it out. You won’t be disappointed.
3. Link Shorting Tool
I like short links, and I cannot lie. Okay, if you got that 90s hip-hop reference, give me a virtual high-five!
Since brevity is so important when it comes to social media posts, you want to use every tactic available to make your posts as concise and value-packed as possible.
That’s why I use Bitly to shorten virtually all of the links I share via social media.
Bitly is a free tool that allows you to shorten and track multiple links, and if you’re fancy, you can even set it up with a custom URL that ties back to your brand.
Many of the social media platforms I mentioned above also allow you to either shorten links directly within them or connect your Bitly account and use your own custom URL, which is pretty cool.
4. Graphic Design Tool
Oh, how can we talk about social media marketing and not mention the importance of using powerful images?
Back in the day, it was perfectly acceptable if the majority (or all) of your social media posts were plain old text. Blah! But that is certainly not the case anymore.
If you’re not using images in your social media strategy, you need to reconsider what you’re doing.
We’re living through a visual marketing revolution at this very moment. That sounds impressive, doesn’t it?
Seriously, images need to have a big role in your campaigns. But what if you’re not a graphic designer?
That’s where a tool like Canva comes in. I love this product because it makes graphic design fun for non-designers like myself.
You can design cover photos, banner, cool sharable quotes, and pretty much anything in Canva. It’s free to use for the most part, and you only pay if you choose to use a stock image or graphic icon from their extensive collection. And even then, it’s only $1.00 per image. Not too bad!
5. Project Management Tool
Last but not least, you need something to help you stay organized with all of this social media activity. For that, I recommend either Asana or Trello. Both of these tools can do similar things, which is help you keep track of various tasks, lists, or projects and collaborate with others.
If you’re working as part of a large team, Asana has more robust team collaboration features. It’s a project management power tool. But if it’s just you and you’re trying to keep your social media calendar and tasks organized, you might like Trello a little better.
Check both of them out, since they’re free to start with and see which one integrates into your workflow the best. Whichever one seems to “get out of the way” is the one to stick with, since you want to focus on your work at hand, not on the tool.
I use Trello for keeping my social media editorial calendar organized, tracking all of my blog post ideas, structuring my blogger outreach campaigns, etc. But I also use Asana to collaborate with team members and clients, and track all of the specific tasks tied to a project.
Enough tools already!
Well, I don’t expect you to go out and start using all of these at once. Who knows, maybe you already have a marketing toolbox that is working perfectly for you. But then again, maybe you saw one or two tools above that are worth considering.
Whatever the case may be, I want to hear your thoughts! Are there any tools you’d add to the five categories mentioned above? Have you used some of these tools with great results?
Leave a comment below or reach out on Twitter and let’s chat.
Latest posts by Nicholas Scalice (see all)
- How To Use Snapchat For Business and Fun [Infographic] - August 28, 2016
- How Can Your Business Effectively Use Snapchat? - June 26, 2016
- Choosing the Right Social Media Scheduling Tool - February 21, 2016