Top 5 Social Media Marketing Tools

top 5 social media marketing toolsWe’ve all been there. The sales team asks for new initiatives to drive leads on a daily basis. The team in the C-suite is anxious to figure when social media is actually going to result in measurable ROI. And the group of communicators and creatives on staff wants to knock the socks off people with messaging that engages and motivates.

What’s the solution to juggling all your internal audiences AND delivering results via social media marketing tools and methods?

Not surprisingly, the answer is multi-tiered. But with a little understanding and effort, you can create a strategy and action items that deliver on the social media promise of affinity-driven customers. To get rolling, let’s look at five top social media marketing tools, to make it effective, interesting and easy-to-implement.

1. Personnel

First, there’s personnel. What? You wanted the perfect app that would market your service to the masses just by pushing a button? Sorry. As with any well-thought-out marketing campaign, you’d better have the right people on-board.

Forget leaving your marketing livelihood up to an intern. You need to either identify the best skills already within your organization or hire professionals to perform the job. In order of importance, you ideally want someone with a communications or crisis management background. This person or persons should be familiar with, and actively using, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. They should also be familiar with your industry, your brand and your ideal customer.

Once you’ve got this person in-house, you’ll want to look to technologies and methods. These go hand-in-hand as most social media marketing tools have a set of best practices that go along with them. Fortunately, with skilled people in charge of these channels you’ll be prepared to succeed. Do not make the mistake dozens have made by jumping in without a roadmap/plan/strategy.

2. Facebook

Start here. Start slowly. Know the rules. Set up a business page and leverage your existing marketing channels to build followers/likes. The best-practices approach is to start conversations with posts that include images and include questions. Build conversations and with those conversations and participation will come affinity.

Pitfalls for Facebook marketing include trying to do raffles and sweepstakes without knowing the terms of service. It sounds like a great way to build your list and get some warm leads, but Facebook is stringent on the steps you need to follow if you’re going to run a contest. Fans won’t be impressed if you jump out of the gate by collecting their information and then bombard them with emails.

Ultimately, Facebook is where a billion people go to talk about their lives. You can be part of that conversation if you do it carefully.

3. Twitter

It’s not just for conversations anymore. In the beginning, Twitter’s model was one that was based on communication between two people. Now the hashtags have taken over and chats, events and images are all the rage. Snark sometimes rules the day, but as a brand it’s best to strive to deliver value instead of sarcasm.

These days successful companies use Twitter to share breaking information about products and services. They use this service to reach out to customers and to perform customer service – if you’re on Twitter you’d better have a listening plan in place because people will tweet at you regularly and will want a fast response.

The overall method that works best with Twitter is the ‘text-messaging’ model. Pretend the folks asking you questions (unless it’s during a chat) are texting you their concerns. Write back to them and use real language and offer genuine help. If you don’t have an answer to a problem, ask them to send you a direct message with information on good way for you to reach them when you do find an answer. Then go find it.

Quick tip – when you have collateral printed, make sure you provide actual addresses, not just a Twitter or Facebook logo.

4. LinkedIn

The professional networking and career search site is a place for you to build awareness and brand affinity. People on LinkedIn are professionals and pay a lot more serious attention to brands that know how to market via LinkedIn. What’s the secret? Knowledge and sharing.

LinkedIn offers you the ability to become a leader in your industry by just answering questions people have about your environment. Do you sell natural foods? Join and participate in natural food and culinary groups on LinkedIn. One caveat – LinkedIn is people-based, so either coordinate your efforts with executives in your organization or ensure that the folks sharing messaging are aligned with your firm. Nothing hurts you more than having an outside individual starting conversations about your company. People want to hear from employees and professionals.

Lastly, the LinkedIn payoff is two-fold. You’ll build awareness for your brand, products and services; and you’ll likely get people (hopefully smart people) interested in joining your company. If you’re planning on social media marketing for the long haul…and you should…then LinkedIn is a perfect step.

5. Evaluation

The fifth and final tool of social media marketing is evaluation. Take a hard look at the team you’ve put in place and the three main tools they’re using to connect with the world. See what it’s doing for you and if there are ways you can make these efforts more effective. In the end, you’ll get a great feel for what works and how your brand is viewed outside of your walls.

Social media marketing isn’t solely about applications or tools. It requires some operational moves to get the most of the technology.

What social media marketing tools and/or techniques do you recommend companies use to be successful in today’s tech-rich environment?

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