With the amount of consumers inundating social media channels with opinions, experiences, and recommendations, businesses can no longer afford to ignore this marketing channel. The proliferation of social media is undeniable.1
Keeping up with so many channels and users — and measuring their impact on your business — is not easy. In a recent survey, CMOs overwhelmingly expect to interact with customers over social networks in the next three to five years, although 66 percent of respondents say they are unprepared to do so.2
If you’re struggling to bridge the gap between your marketing and social media efforts, your business needs social media marketing software. Sometimes called social media management software (SMMS), and closely aligned with marketing automation platforms, these tools help you scale your social media efforts, engage customers, and monitor mentions, or conversations about your brand.
Social media marketing software varies widely between vendors. This guide will help you better understand the capabilities of various SMMS systems, how it can benefit your company, and how to choose the best social media marketing vendor for your business.
How do you know what your customers and leads are saying about your business on social media? How do you know if someone who tweets a question at your business is already subscribed to one of your email marketing campaigns? Does this customer subscribe to one of your competitors’ social media accounts?
If you only have a handful of clients, then this information isn’t hard to track, however, as your business grows, you’ll need a more connected view of your customers, and the history and nature of their relationships with your company. SMMS platforms help through integration with your sales or marketing database(s) to create rich, omni-channel customer profiles with information on previous web interactions with the company — page views, email opens, etc. — and their purchase history.
In addition to rich customer profiles, most SMMS platforms have advanced monitoring tools to help track specific keywords or contacts. Having real-time streams of relevant phrases can help you prioritize your social media efforts and identify how and when to interact with your customers. It’s all about being there to say the right thing to the right person — at the right time. To make it easier to monitor all of these channels, nearly all solutions provide a combined social media management dashboard so you don’t have to track mentions or interactions using multiple tools.
With all interactions centralized on a single social media management platform, it’s much easier to generate omni-channel marketing reports and perform robust analytics to determine the return-on-investment of your efforts. You can see the number of clicks per message, as well as the number of leads and customers you generate.
There are several ways to package SMMS solutions. They may come as a module of your marketing automation software (ie Hubspot), or as a standalone social media management tool that integrates with existing systems (ie Hootsuite). The best solution for your business will be the one that integrates your social media activities with any legacy systems. Features will vary from vendor to vendor, ranging from simple social profile access to sophisticated analytics and social media monitoring capabilities. Before your evaluation, determine which functions and criteria are important to you.
Features of social media marketing software platforms are numerous, as social media platforms allow diverse forms of media, have varying levels of functionality, and wide-ranging options for social promotion, sharing, or paid media. Some common features of social media marketing tools include:
Selecting a social media marketing solution is about more than just features and supported networks. In addition to making sure the system you choose offers the features your company needs, you’ll need to verify the system is scalable in functionality and price. You’ll also want to evaluate your options and decide on the importance of:
No matter how large or small your business is, social media marketing software can help increase customer engagement, improve the response of customer support, boost sales, and much more. Creative companies leverage social media marketing strategies in a variety of ways; these are a few common social media marketing software use cases to help paint a picture of how you can use social media to improve your business.
Use the information gathered through social listening to gain a better understanding of customers and prospects. What are their questions and pain points? What are they sharing? Use social media data to draw valuable insights about your target audience, then use those insights to guide your efforts, inform your content creation, and gather customer suggestions for product or campaign improvements.
Social media is most commonly used to publish and curate content, but you can’t just blindly schedule posts without considering your audience. You want to create content based on your specific business goals; do you want to be a seen as a thought leader in your industry? Do you want to get more sales leads? Are you trying to garner more web traffic? In order for social media marketing to be successful, you have to have a goal to measure success against.
Social media should be viewed as a dialogue, rather than a monologue. If you make it all about you, then no one will be interested in the message. One way to avoid this is through social listening. Social listening is a way for your business to scan for crises, identify industry trends, gather intelligence on competitors, and identify sales opportunities. For example, to help with social selling and lead generation, you can subscribe to mentions of a certain phrase. When these words are triggered, you can then connect with new opportunities. You can also use social listening for customer care. Almost half of all consumers who complain about a brand or product on social media expect a response in 60 minutes or less.4 SMMS tools can help you prevent and mitigate customer criticism, and retain customers through faster issue resolution.
Social media can help brands establish their voice by creating content schedules and identifying leading influencers in your market. Then you can nurture those relationships, which can help to improve the overall image and visibility of your brand.
Gaining buy-in from executives is a critical success factor for approval of any software purchase. At most companies, you’ll need to include data that shows stakeholders what kind of return on investment they can expect. To this end, present industry research, statistics, or relevant case studies like the one below. Additionally, consider tailoring your appeal to address the concerns of each member of the C-suite separately. Below are a few talking points to get you started:
Since CEOs are concerned with the big picture, they’ll want to know how SMMS can improve the business overall. Along with the benefits and strategies already mentioned in this guide, be sure to point out your competitors’ social media strategies. More than 80 percent of U.S. businesses are trying to leverage social media for growth, and have increased their budgets to accommodate new social strategies.5 If your business isn’t one of those companies, then it’s likely you don’t have the upper hand.
Your chief marketing officer already knows the importance of marketing, lead generation, and brand awareness. They’re likely already using analytics to measure these efforts. Be sure to mention the benefits that an omni-channel SMMS platform could bring. To make your case stronger, you can focus on getting approval for a small trial or proof-of-concept. Many vendors offer a free version or trial period. Use this chance to test social media marketing software on a small scale, and then leverage your findings to make the case for a larger investment.
Your chief financial officer ensures resources align with the organization’s priorities. They will want to know the funding requirements for a new technology investment, and how it will generate revenue, and how it will reduce costs. SMMS can reduce customer service costs by resolving issues quickly online, which reduces the amount help tickets created. It also provides a greater opportunity to identify areas of product and market growth. Again, a small proof of concept and software case studies that feature companies similar to yours can help CFOs understand the financial benefits of investing in this technology.
Company: Tourism Jasper6
Tourism Jasper is a destination marketing organization that promotes travel to Jasper, Alberta, Canada. Tourists increasingly want to hear opinions and real stories from other travelers. The company decided to take advantage of this by sharing user-generated content across social media and their website, which acts as an online hub to support conversations around Jasper National Park and Jasper’s many offerings.
This allows the organization to connect, build trusting relationships with travelers, and increase shareholder referrals that support business growth. Using Hootsuite, they launched an ongoing campaign that would build a community around the hashtag #MyJasper.
Hootsuite is a social media management service with ‘freemium’ pricing, which makes it suitable for small or enterprise businesses alike. Hootsuite was the best software to meet the needs of Tourism Jasper, but another vendor may be best for your company’s unique requirements.
Browse more options by using our social media marketing Product Selection Tool or check out any of the following vendors:
At TechnologyAdvice, our goal is to help businesses connect with the technology that best meets their needs. We’ve compiled product information, reviews, case studies, feature lists, video walkthroughs, and research articles on hundreds of leading IT solutions, all to make the buying process more straightforward for decision makers like you.
If you’re curious about any of the social media marketing tools or features listed in this guide, we’d love to talk to you. Call one of our in-house specialists for a free consultation, or use the Product Selection Tool on our website to get a personalized recommendation.