Time versus ROI
Your greatest pain point with social media is time. For most business owners, they know they need to be on social media in some capacity, but simply lack the resources to create profiles, and manage them. And then there’s the whole question of which channels to use for your business? Obviously there’s a lot to talk about on the subject… for bottom line P&L operators, the most important question they want to have answered is “what’s the ROI?”
However you measure ROI, you’re going to want to go into the battle armed with some power tools. Here’s a list, some of which we use, and some of which we’ve tested but haven’t found a use for yet.
If your plan is to just set up your channels, invite your family and friends to follow, post some cool content, and hope users come in droves to follow you, you are going to find yourself quickly disappointed. You will need a plan to increase your followers, and it will help to have some tools to accomplish this feat. Outside Facebook* there are tools for most channels, which help you manage your followers.
Here, watch this video on Facebook.
Followerwonk is an extension of the MOZ network, specifically for managing Twitter. It allows you to look at who you are following that is not following you back, as well as the opposite. You can make your cuts or adds as you see fit, but they must be done user-by-user, and if you go too fast you’ll get a message from Followerwonk telling you to “slow down or Twitter will get mad.” It’s pretty funny actually, but to the folks at Twitter it’s no joke. They really don’t want you managing your followers in bulk. Followerwonk also has a nice feature where you can analyze another user’s tweets, follows, and followers. We use this tab for finding like audiences.
The downside to Followerwonk? It’s free unless you want all the features, in which case you will pay for the MOZ pro account starting at $99 per month. The free version isn’t really what you need to make a difference. Chances are you’re going to pay the $99 if you like it. Every month. The silver lining is you will get all the MOZ Pro tools for SEO along with you subscription.
Social Bro works similar to Followerwonk but doesn’t require you to have a MOZ account. For small companies, it may be the better alternative. Our experience using it is limited at this point, but we may use this tool more in the future as Social Bro allows more bulk actions, similar to Circloscope for Google+. It also offers helpful tools for best posting times, monitoring (beta as of this writing) and integrating your Google Analytics. Plans go from $0 for two accounts and 5000 social contacts to $149 for forty accounts and 200,000 contacts. They will also custom tailor a plan for really big dawgs.
The downside to Social Bro? This platform has so much functionality, we found all the dials and levers a little much at first. Presumably that feeling goes away with aptitude, so not really a downside then.
Google+ is not dead.
With the recent addition of the collections feature to Google+, the crew at Google is not making any indication that they intend to close shop on their social media platform. Some panicked when they pulled hangouts last year, but nobody flinched when Facebook separated Messenger from there IOS app. Rest assured, you haven’t seen the last of Google+. At DEP, we are big fans of leveraging all that Google+ offers for the right clients. Here are some tools you can use to get the most out of the channel.
Circloscope is a browser extension for Chrome, which means you’ll not be able to use it unless you use have Chrome installed. To report “it’s worth it,” doesn’t even begin to capture the value. $47 is the exact annual spend you incur if you want to get past the free version (recommended) or $178 if you are one of the aforementioned big dawgs. Once you install the extension on your browser you will access the app by clicking the browser button. Circloscope will allow you to add users to circles from the profiles of other users, and communities. For better or worse, you can add large groups of people to circles at a time, up to 5000 circled folks. Past 5000 and Google+ has a problem with your social behavior. No worries, you can go back through your list of circles and dump the rotten eggs, by sorting out non-followers, those who are not active, and even blue-heads. You can keep peeling back who you follow until you have pristine lists of contacts. Google+ users will follow you back at about a 10-30% rate.
The downside to Circloscope? It’s easy to get carried away and add large groups of people with the hope they follow your business back. While that may seem like a win at first, the goal with followers is to acquire those would engage your posts. People who manage their social media profiles like robots, following back every Tom, Dick, and Harry may have no long-term value to your strategy.
Circlecount is an SAAS tool for measuring one’s influence on Google+. You can also measure the influence of your business page. It has a nice interface for metrics, tracking your circled by count over time and the individual performances of your posts. You can also look up which Google+ pages are ranked on top, rising the fastest and have the best engagement.
The downside to Circlecount? It may not be worth the time you spend on it. We find most of the data on here interesting, but outside the metrics on our client’s pages, we haven’t been able to leverage the information for anything measurable yet. This is one to play with and then think about how you can use it to your advantage later. Email us when you do, or better yet follow us on Google+, and message us there.
Pictures are worth a thousand likes
The first thing you’re going to need for any content plan, besides something to talk about, is pictures to illustrate your points. Unless you’re shooting video, blogs, your site, and your posts will go much further with pictures. If you are using Pinterest, your pictures will take center stage. Canva is a lovely tool for creating high definition photo files in a myriad of sizes. Signing up for Canva is free, but if you want to use their photos you will pay $1.00 per file. You can also import your own pictures and vectors for free. Once your creation is done, it will save in your designs, and you can then download it if you want.
Bringing it all together
Hootsuite is the low-cost, no-muss, no-fuss application with which all social media managers should start. From single-unit managers to massive enterprise operations, no tool gets more usage than Hootsuite. At DEP, we’ve worked with Sprout Social and Meet Edgar (still being developed) but went back to Hootsuite on both occasions. For our money, Sprout Social didn’t offer much more than Hootsuite, and for so much more in cost.
So just what do these social media management (SMM) tools all do? They help you organize your posts and allow you to manage multiple channels in one place, both with monitoring and with outreach. Sounds great, right?
It is, really, but there are some things to consider before you go posting away to all your channels twenty times a day. While Hootsuite will allow you to post to Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn Company Pages all in one fell post, and will even tell you how many characters put you over the 140 Twitter-barrier, you shouldn’t always do that. Your followers on your respective channels are likely different crowds, but some of them will follow you in more than one place, and they will feel your non-individualized posting is a little spammy.
Facebook users will typically not click on links that take them outside the channel, but if your links are owl.ly links, as the standard Hootsuite shortened URLs appear, you can almost guarantee they won’t click it. On Facebook, you will get more clicks to your blog (for example) if they can see the whole URL, but if you try that stuff on Twitter you will run out of characters really fast.
Hashtags are allowed just about everywhere these days, but outside Twitter and Instagram they can be perceived as weird. So, in other words, you can’t just send the same content with the same caption on every channel, not if you want to make your time spent worth it. We have, however, found that some posts are okay to syndicate in this way: news articles with photos do just fine, and stand-alone photos too.
The downside to Hootsuite? The monitoring UI for Hootsuite isn’t quite what we are looking for. We are in the market for a monitoring system that works something like Google Alerts or Social Mention but in a feedy-type way. If you know of one you like, please let us know. We are all ears. (IMO) All of the SMMs offer analytics, and all fall short of getting us what our clients want to see, regardless of the cost.
Monitoring and Analytics
Hootsuite also offers monitoring of your channels, much like the other SMMs out there, and analytics for end of month reporting. We’ve utilized reporting from Hootsuite and Sprout Social in the past but have been pulling data from the native apps more than anywhere else, and plotting them on in a spreadsheet. All the pretty graphs and pie-charts in most SMM don’t add up to much when there are big gaps in the data. It seems not all of the social media channels have API’s which play nice for analytics.
Cyfe is nice little tool for putting together your own analytics sheet and pulls data from many places. You can customize as you see fit, adding widgets for Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. We used it for several months, but, in the long run, felt it was still missing some critical analysis tools like year-over-prior data, and some of the functionality we’ve grown accustomed to with Google Analytics. Assuming you know how to use Google Analytics, or Piwik, you will find that between that data and the data from your native apps you can get better details and historical data.
Ultimately, it’s going to come down to how much time you can put into your channels. Most of our social media clients simply don’t have the resources to install a full or part-time team member in charge of managing their profiles, even with tools. They also aren’t sure how to measure success. It stands to reason: social media is still a young beast. Even the best in Social Media Management are struggling to measure ROI, but if you want us to take a look and tell you what we can do, you’ve already found us. You just have to ask for help. Conversation and advice are free. We get paid when you put us in charge. Let us help you now.