For small businesses, social media is a two-part equation. If you’re actively involved on social media channels, congratulations: You’ve mastered the first part of the process. Engaging customers and prospects through social media is simply a non-negotiable for a successful small business marketing strategy.
But what about the rest of your social media strategy? Rounding it out involves monitoring the channels, so that you’re constantly in touch with your customers and the marketplace, taking in and responding to feedback of all kinds.
New uses for social media seem to pop up all the time, as do tools for monitoring and using the information these channels collect and convey to you. On The Washington Post’s On Small Business blog, branding strategist Shrita Sterln wrote recently about the many ways social media monitoring can be leveraged to your business’s advantage. From getting real-time and unfiltered perceptions of your brand to monitoring your completion to improving customer service, monitoring social media can help you get information you might not get any other way. And this information can take your business to the next level.
In fact, digitalsydney.com describes a 14-point social media monitoring checklist to make sure you’re reaping all the benefits—and as a tool you can use to justify your expanding social media monitoring efforts. Several areas you won’t want to overlook: Managing crises, understanding emerging industry trends, seeing how current events may be affecting your industry and even being able to spot influencers early.
Fortunately, you don’t have to go it alone. Social Media Today lists 50 top tools for monitoring social media—platforms to help you manage, measure and analyze your social media initiatives. Each of the 50 tools included here can distill data in ways that are relevant to your business in helping you figure out how to engage with and convert your audience. To determine which one is best for you, start with a clear definition of your objectives. Click the link above for a high-level summary of these 50 monitoring tools.
There’s only one thing better than 50 top monitoring tools, and that’s 20 free social media monitoring tools that Small Business Trends says you should be using. As valuable as social media has become for small businesses, measuring ROI continues to be a major challenge. These tools will help you measure social media activity—but you need to articulate what you’re measuring and why to be able to choose the right monitoring tools. How you approach monitoring and measuring will differ considerably, depending on whether you’re looking to grow your online community, increase the number of mentions of your brand or use social media to actually convert customers.
OK, we know what you’re thinking: Where will I find the time to monitor social media? You’re not alone: Spiral 16, a provider of web and social media research, says there are still some pretty big challenges to regularly monitoring and measuring social media, based on recent survey results. Among them:
- Lack of time
- Lack of staff
- Too overwhelming
- Don’t know which tools to use
- Not a priority
It’s quite possible that you’ll need help in the beginning, to select the right tools and get them set up. But after that initial period, with the right tools, incorporating social media monitoring into your routine should be a breeze.
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