From a business standpoint everyone knows and understands the importance of social media. What makes social media even more important to a small business owner is that you stand on the same playing field whether you’re a huge corporation or a mom & pop business. What it comes down to is the fact that you NEED to be on a multitude of social media sites, blog regularly, and have an every day online presence in order to hold a ranking on search engines and be in the constant view of potential customers. To do this you need to literally move from one site to the next, hit numerous blogs and make comments with back-links to your website, while maintaining constant updates on your own blog and social media sites. To do this you need a “team” that can help you every step of the way… or do you?
There are some amazing options out there, and many of them are free. You can use something called Social Media Dashboards. These dashboards can literally save you a ton of money and time by mass producing, updating, and keeping your company name consistently in the eyes of your potential buyers.
Probably one of the most common of these dashboards is HooteSuite®, which has a basic free download and then offers a “pro” upgrade with even more gadgets and add-ons to make your updates easier. The basic, free version is usable for up to five accounts; while Pro version starts at a price of $5.99, allowing unlimited accounts for up to two users. HooteSuite interfaces with all of the common social media such as Twitter®, Facebook®, WordPress® (blogs), FourSquare®, MySpace®, Google+, Flickr, LinkedIn, and more. The basic version doesn’t have many bells and whistles other than a scheduling system and basic analytics; however, the Pro version provides special integration with Google Analytics, more advanced scheduling tools and some special training. One very positive aspect of HooteSuite® is that it integrates well with current marketing tools such as Constant Contact and MailChimp. With its affordable price and excellent integration abilities with some very good marketing programs utilizing HooteSuite® could basically create a “marketing team” for you with the use of only one or two people using the system. HooteSuite® has become one of the top sellers and free-use tools in social media for a reason.
Postling™ is a dashboard that hasn’t received nearly as much attention as it deserves. The plus of this dashboard is that it can manage a multitude of social media accounts/sites; but, it also offers a special feature that can come in quite handy, monitoring the internet for mentions on review sites for your company name. The positive factor here is instant knowledge that something has been posted, good or bad, and you get firsthand knowledge instantly. This allows you to toot your own horn when you’re bringing in a lot of reviews and comments from loving customers. You can integrate with up to five accounts for $5 a month while additional accounts will cost you $3 each extra per month. Postling™ also comes as an app for your Smartphones so you can continue to monitor and run your social media without the need of being attached to a computer. This is an obvious plus for anyone on the run or who can’t spend a lot of time in one place.
Now, I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t give a shout out to Buffer. I have found that at times HootSuite® can be a bit intimidating with all the choices available. Buffer is also a free APP and as you add more accounts there are paid options. I currently use Buffer and find it’s simplicity refreshing. The downside is that it only offers 3 platforms (Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn). I hope in the future Buffer expands its options.
Basically social media dashboards come in handy as a way to look as though you are all over the internet, while still doing an amazing job as a company. You can obtain a number of analytical tools, extra training, and have multiple account handling with most. You need to shop around and price out what social media sites will serve your business best and see if you need to invest in paid versions or if you can get by with the free versions. By far it seems HooteSuite® is the most well-thought out, least expensive, and yet most extensive version that is affordable for small businesses.
Of course if what I’ve written above still sounds totally overwhelming (and it can be), that is what I’m here for. For business owners who have a very limited budget and need to juggle their own social media accounts, social media dashboards are definitely a viable option to stay social.