Focus is often directed towards large businesses and how they manage their companies through social media. Although small businesses don’t have the PR teams and social media teams that larger businesses have, they can still improve their traffic, success, profile management, and presence by using some of these tools. As per PC World, the top five social media tools and apps to help manage your business are: Hootsuite, VerticalResponse, Sprout Social, Sendible, and Postling. Depending on your small business’s budget, some of these options may not be the best as they come with a fee after an initial trial phase.
This is a great option for businesses running on a tight budget as although there is a paid pro option that allows for more access to the app, there is a free version. The free version allows one user to manage the profiles, and you can manage up to five social media platforms at a time. The pro version allows for more than one user to access the managing of accounts and provides you with more features. If you are looking to post content with times that provide the most traffic, this site allows you to pre draft a post, schedule it for a set date to post, and post it for you on the desired platform. Hootsuite Pro is available for $10 per month, opposed to the much more basic free plan.
This tool allows you to tie your email and social media platforms together, rather than looking at them as two separate tools. This also allows you to schedule anything from single updates on your accounts, to an entire marketing campaign up to a month in advance. VerticalResponse collects a general library of relevant websites that are useful to the industry that you are in – this helps businesses avoid getting lost in the many websites that are associated to the company they are working in. This tool was also specifically designed for companies who are understaffed and do not have the time or knowledge to manage their platforms. VerticalResponse only offers one version of the service and it costs $18 per month.
The advantage of this tool opposed to the others mentioned are that it allows you to view your social media reports in an easy to read thumbnail, if your small business has multiple people operating the accounts it can allow you to assign roles for each member, and the “smart inbox” feature displays all your mentions from each platform. Within 24 hours of signing up, Sprout Social collects the demographic of all your followers and notifies you on what you can be doing better to reach them. Despite Sprout Social being ahead of the other tools in terms of easy navigation, the extra analytics features, and the “smart inbox,” it doesn’t allow you to incorporate your email and it is fairly costly. The Small Biz plan that allows you to monitor up to 20 social media profiles, costs $39 per month. The Deluxe plan allows you to maintain a maximum of 40 social profiles, and costs $59 per month. The Premium plan offers unlimited profile management, and it costs $899 per month.
For companies who use social media in a more aggressive, specific manner, Sendible is likely worth the price. Sendible’s ability to allow you to post to specific photo albums or notes to your page or status updates on Facebook or LinkedIn can cut time down immensely. Sendible also has programming to allow your business to receive email alerts specific to key words you have selected related to the field your business is in or company name, etc. With the special “Marketer” package from Sendible, you can gain access to Google Analytics which is crucial to small businesses. The Marketer plan costs $30 per month and provides up to 30 services, while the Business plan provides a maximum 80 services, for $70 per month.
Postling is a great key for monitoring your social media profiles as it provides great analytics, as well as reviews on TripAdvisor and Yelp, and actual posting on your profiles. Hospitality and restaurants should look to become very familiar and benefit from this tool as Yelp and TripAdvisor are man reviewing and feedback tools for businesses in those fields. Similar to Sprout, you can manage all mentions and messages in one inbox from the site. Although Postling is a great tool, it can become very costly as an initial five accounts to monitor are $5 per month, then an additional $3 per month per extra account.
Small businesses should look to experiment with each of these listed tools. Considering the free trial that most of them offer, it is worth it to experiment and decide which works best for your company. Any business in the hospitality and restaurant industry should absolutely use Postling, while experimenting with others. Although these all cost money, when you consider the time and money you will save by using these tools, rather than hiring social media experts or teams to manage your accounts it is worth it.