As online marketing continues to sweep the social media world like wildfire, it is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore its importance in business. Large companies are starting to create entire departments dedicated to managing their online presence. It’s not hard to believe that small businesses and entrepreneurs can fall into the gaping time pit that is social media management as they try to keep up with the big dogs. So how can you effectively stay connected with your community? You are a small army and it can sometimes seem overwhelming. Fortunately, there are several free online resources available to back you up.
Update All Platforms
Having a difficult time keeping all of your social media channels up-to-date? Consolidate all your updates into one system via Tweet Deck, now the official Twitter application (recently bought by Twitter for $50 million). Integration with Twitter, Facebook (including Page support), LinkedIn, Foursquare, Google Buzz, and MySpace allows for you to combine all updates into one simple step. Include your location, pictures, or video into posts with a click of a button. Schedule your updates to post at specified times throughout the week.
In addition to the content creation tools, Tweet Deck features a robust content monitoring system that utilizes customizable columns. This allows you to monitor exactly the content you are looking for on your social media channels. Hot Tip: If you use Twitter, be sure to link Tweet Deck to your URL shortening service. This will automatically give you a shortened link when you paste or type a URL in the message box. URL shorteners also provide usage statistics to see who is clicking on them. Don’t have one? Get bit.ly.
Spread The Word
You have some great content on your website – make it easy for your users to share it. AddThis allows visitors to share your content through pretty much any platform they choose. With dead simple customization and copy/paste installation, AddThis can be added to any site. Compatibility is universal, spanning from any website to email newsletters and flash videos.
AddThis also allows you to easily track how visitors are sharing your content with a range of statistics. Assess what content your users like and what may need tweaking. You can even link AddThis with your Google Analytics account. Hot Tip: Customize AddThis to include your company’s branding and colours. More information is available via the AddThis Branding Settingspage.
Hot Off The Press
Do the coding and compatibility issues that accompany e-newsletter creation intimidate you? MailChimp provides you with an intuitive user interface, so you can focus on creating an informative and attractive e-newsletter. You can then import contacts from a number of services, including Gmail, Yahoo!, and Hotmail or from a simple .CSV or .TXT file. Full control over the sending procedure ensures that your subscribers receive the newsletter as you intended.
MailChimp also offers advanced analytics features to determine what links your subscribers are clicking and who is tweeting your emails. You can even test two different newsletters to see what one gets click rates via MailChimp’s A/B Split Testing feature. Also, be sure to enable integration with Google Analytics. Hot Tip:If you are used to your native email client and do not want to learn MailChimp’s newsletter creator, you can create your newsletter in whatever email client you use and transfer it straight to MailChimp for submission to your subscribers.
Social Search Tools
Tweet Deck may be all you need to monitor your community’s voice, but if you want the extra firepower, there are some dedicated services available. Social Mention monitors blogs, news, comments, and virtually any avenue of comment for keywords you select. Board Reader specializes in forums and blogs for its keyword monitoring. Finally, BackType analyses the web for mentions of URLs, keywords, and people that you specify. These are all very helpful for keeping in tune with what the community is saying about you, your site, and your products and services. If you have any questions or would like to receive further guidance on how to manage the online presence of your small business, please contact us today.