5 Tools to Harness The Power of Social Media

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Congratulations: you’ve decided to join the more than 2.2 billion active users on social media – that’s 30 percent of the world’s population, as reported by Social Media Today – and create social media channels for your business. Now you’re ready to share marketing messages, communicate directly with your customers, and drive sales with free tools like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

After you’ve created your profiles and optimized your bios with keyword-rich descriptions you’d like your brand to rank for online, it’s time to take your social media to the next level. With content management, analytics, promotions, photo editors, and listening tools, you can turn simple posts into powerful marketing aids that better benefit your business.

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1. Content Management

Whether you have a lean social media specialist team or are looking to save time on posts by scheduling them ahead of time, a social media content management system helps you get organized. Tools such as Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, and Buffer – as outlined by Top10BestWebsiteBuilders – allow you to view several networks at once, create content in advance, and even interact via the networks, all in one window.

Using a content management system helps you stay organized, so you can ensure you’re disseminating different appropriate messages on each channel. Also, with a shared system, all parties involved in your business’ social media management can see messaging in one place and interact with followers with ease.

2. Analytics

Analytics tools allow you to prove return on investment for social media management efforts. Most channels have free built-in analytics that allow you to measure everything from follower numbers to visitor impressions to negative feedback on pages. If you’re a page manager for a Facebook page, for example, you can see everything from how many people “Liked” individual posts, to the optimal day of the week and time of day to push out posts on the channel.

No matter what social networks you’re using, make sure your main website is connected to comprehensive analytics via a tool such as Google Analytics, outlined here on Mashable, which is also free. This way, you can track referrals coming from social media channels and analyze behavior to better refine your content.

3. Promotions

Want to really get your followers engaged? Offer contests or free giveaways via social channels to pique your users’ interest. There are a variety of applications that allow you to easily integrate promotions into your social media channels, with options including:

  • Sweepstakes
  • Coupons
  • Photo contests
  • Quizzes
  • Polls
  • Video contests
  • Instant win contests
  • Deals
  • Rewards

By using a promotion application such as Woobox, you can create contest successes such as these outlined by Social Media Examiner. When creating your promotion, think about what type makes most sense for your brand. Are you promoting a college football bowl game? Get fans hyped up by offering digital badge giveaways or creating a virtual fan face-off. Work for a hotel? Get visitors to show off their summer pool shots, and encourage fan voting to award a winner with a free stay. Even tech companies such as cloud storage software products can offer free gigabyte coupons.

To create increased engagement with your promotion, make the contest easy to share, or incentivize participants with extra chances to win by sharing their entry with their followers. Give people extra entries when they refer a friend, or encourage voting among users to get non-entrants in the game. The more traffic you drive to algorithm-based channels, such as Facebook, the more likely your marketing posts will reach your followers, and contests provide a prime opportunity to get more eyeballs on your pages.

4. Photo Editing

If you really want to maximize social media efforts, photos are key. Pew reported in 2015 that Instagram is the fastest-growing social media channel by percentage. Considering only 28 percent of marketers use Instagram, as reported by Social Media Today in August 2015, the channel provides huge potential for sales for brands that use innovative photo editing aids to stand out.

There are many free applications that work with Instagram to give you more options than just your basic filter. Apps like PhotoGrid allow you to collage several photos in a single post, while Flipagram turns your photos into a slideshow that goes beyond the single shot in people’s feeds.

Want to improve any of your photos, even ones you’re not posting on Instagram? Pixlr offers more than 100 types of photo effects, plus nearly 300 overlays. As social media users continue to gravitate toward the instant content photos provide, sprucing up your shots helps you stand out from the pack.

5. Listening Tools

If your brand tends to generate heated discussion on social channels, employing a listening tool allows you to keep up with the conversation and improve your brand’s online sentiment by responding accordingly. As Social Media Examiner reports, tools like Social Mention, Mention, and Talkwalker offer features that allow you to:

  • Learn top keywords and users related to your brand
  • Monitor brand mentions across the Web
  • Track engagement about your brand on social channels

The power of social media lies in interaction and analytics-driven strategy, which can help you increase sales. By putting more mindfulness into painlessly and simply upgrading the tools you’re already using, your brand can become a leader in the social sphere and gain more targeted and influential digital marketing opportunities.

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn’t know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.