Why Use Social Media Automation Tools
There is no substitute for genuine, authentic interaction with your audience. That being said, you cannot be all things to all people, just like you cannot be on all platforms at all times. Nor do you need to be. The right tool at the right time in the right place frees up some of your precious time, enabling you to actually engage MORE.
Most of us know the value of putting a face to the name. That is why we put personal profile photos on business accounts. It is important to build your brand awareness, but people want to talk to people, not brands. That is what makes social media, well, social. Another means of personalizing your business presence is to let your personality shine through. Let your customers and potential customers know that there is a real human being typing out all those witticisms. However, that doesn’t mean you need to be permanently attached to your keyboard. Your audience knows you do more than simply chat on Facebook and Twitter. They expect you to be doing more. That is where selective automation comes in.
Automation allows you to stagger posts at times when you may not be personally available but your customer is. You have to sleep, right? Whether you run a mom and pop business or a multi-national corporation, you need to regularly connect and share with your audience. You also need to keep them updated about your brand. Judicious use of social media tools enables you to share your message AND have meaningful conversations about it.
Now that we have established how useful social media automation tools can be, let’s dive into our personal favorites. There are literally thousands of tools out there. Some good, some not so good and some downright useless. How do you know which ones are right for you? Right for your target market? Right for the social networks you use most?
Over the years, the last year being the most plentiful when it comes to new and innovative tools, we have tried countless offerings. We have weeded through the junk and come up with our top three social media automation tools…and the best part: All three of our favorite tools are absolutely free. They all do have paid versions, but for most small businesses, free will do the job just fine.
Our Top 3 Tools
We will start with my personal favorite and the one I simply cannot do without. In fact, I shudder at the thought: Buffer.
Platforms: Web application, Browser Extension (Chrome, Firefox, and Safari); iPhone app
Share to your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and App.net account, all from one place and at optimal times.
Any link, text, picture or video you want to share, add it to your Buffer. Your updates will automatically be scheduled and posted well spaced out over the day to your favorite social networks. Of course, any update can also be “posted now” inside the app.
- Share to multiple Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and App.net profiles from one place.
- Get Analytics for each social update you share: Clicks, retweets, likes, shares, mentions and more.
- Get your posts automatically timed and scheduled, so you never have to worry about setting a time and date. Just hit “add to Buffer”.
- Add updates to your Buffer from lots of different apps or via email.
- Get the mobile Safari bookmarklet to share any post you are reading.
As a bonus:
Platforms: Web based application
IFTTT is short for “If this, then that”. It is pronounced like “gift” without the “g.”
IFTTT enables customers to create and share Recipes that fit the simple statement: if this then that. The “this” part of a recipe is a trigger. Some example triggers are “If I’m tagged in a photo on Facebook” or “If I check in on Foursquare.” The “that” part of a recipe is an action. Some example actions are “Then send me an email” or “Then create a photo post on Tumblr.” The combination of a trigger and an action from a customer’s active channels are called recipes. The service offers triggers and actions for over 56 channels, such as Twitter, Foursquare, WordPress, Tumblr, and Instagram. In June 2012, the service crossed over to the physical world by integrating with Belkin WeMo devices, allowing recipes to interact with the real world.
Platforms: Web application, Browser Extension (Chrome, Firefox, and Safari); Mobile App’s
Hootsuite is the de facto leader in social media management tools. Given that illustrious title, you would think they would be our top choice, right? Well, sorry to disappoint. While Hootsuite is the industry leader, as far as social media management clients go, we find it a bit unwieldy The learning curve is a bit steep for the average user. In other words, it is a bit of overkill unless you are an agency. It does have all the bells and whistles you would expect, including a scheduler and support for multiple accounts. In its defense, it also boasts an auto-scheduler feature which optimises and automates the publishing of your content based on computed peak engagement times.
This last one is more of a bonus, as it only caters to one social network, Google Plus. However, as we believe that Google+ is the place to be in 2013, it definitely pays to give it a look. The best part of this Chrome extension is that it will post to your profile, your page and your communities. Plus, the developer is a really great guy who is always willing to help out.
Platforms: Chrome Browser Extension
Why you’ll love it:
- Works for personal Google+ profiles as well as Google+ pages
- Easily share links to Google+ from any tab on Google Chrome
- Create a post, and schedule it for later – Do Share will automatically send it
- Supports sharing to circles, +mentions, notifying circle, link sharing, reshares, and photo uploads
- Supports sharing to Google+ communities
- Supports Hashtag autocomplete
- Allows you to share a comment from the Google+ stream
- Bring out your inner author with a distraction free rich text editor – Save a draft now, edit it into a post later
- Share a post directly from the stream
- Share a post directly from the notifications panel –
- Quickly share to your personal page from your page’s stream and notifications
- Supports Multiple Google login
- Supports automatic numbering of public posts
- Automates creating of polls on Google+
- Works offline
Have you used any of these social media automation tools? Do you agree with our choices? What tools do you use? We would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment. New tool suggestions are always welcome!