12 Most Effective Social Media Automation Tools for Business
Few would sanely argue today that social media for business is a waste of time. It’s the most cost-effective and direct means of communicating and interacting with your customers, colleagues, and connections.
Like it or not, social networking is here to stay. For most businesses, being involved with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. is an imperative — not a potential marketing idea. The only problem is that staying active on the social web can be incredibly taxing on your time. Enter social media automation…
Many tools have arisen in the last several years that make it easier for business professionals to maintain an active web presence and still run their businesses. While business people obviously must be careful in using these tools not to detract from the interactive nature of social networking, some posts, articles, and statuses can and should be automated.
Okay, I know what you’re thinking. Isn’t the point of a social media automation tool to simplify your social media operations? So, if I have to juggle twelve different tools, doesn’t it sort of defeat the purpose? Well, yes. While all of these tools offer something unique, many of them do kind of run together. But, it’s nice to have a variety. You can tinker with each tool and see which one works best for your business. Give it a shot. All of these tools are free unless otherwise noted.
This tool is the great dashboard of social media. From one location, you can integrate multiple Facebook (personal, page, and group), Twitter, LinkedIn, and Foursquare accounts. If you manage multiple accounts for your business or for clients, this is a must-have. It’s free up to five accounts and only five dollars a month beyond that.
Triberr is the blogger’s dream come true. The site enables you to join a like-minded group of bloggers and mutually share one another’s RSS blog content via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ from one location. You can be part of multiple Tribes but must be invited into a Tribe (you can request an invite) to join. If you blog for your business, looking into Triberr can do you a lot of good. It’s free but there are certain upgrades (like sponsored posts) that you can pay for.
Dlvr.it is probably the simplest automation tool. You simply plug in a group of RSS feeds and decide which social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) you want them to go to. When RSS posts go live, it automatically sends them to the networks you’ve selected. You can also create custom messages instead of RSS posts or add text (@mentions, hashtags, etc.) to the RSS posts. Dlvr.it automatically pulls the image from a post when posting to Facebook and it’s a great tool to keep a consistent stream of content on Twitter accounts. It’s free and, as far as I can tell, there is no limit to the amount of feeds or networks you can add.
Buffer is a neat little content distribution tool for Twitter. You can install the bookmarklet in any browser, an extension in chrome, or an add-on in Firefox. You “buffer” a webpage and it adds the article to your stack of tweets scheduled to go out. You can set the times you want your tweets to be scheduled, so they don’t all go at once. There’s also a cool little feature called “suggest a tweet” that gives you cool quotes to add to your list of scheduled tweets. Buffer is free for one account with up to 10 Tweets. There is a $10 per month upgrade with 6 accounts and up to 50 tweets and a $99 upgrade with unlimited accounts and all kinds of goodies.
Twitter Feed is almost identical to Dlvr.it (if someone can prove me wrong, please do). You can add an RSS feed (and add text to it) and then send it out to various Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn accounts. The Interface is a little different. Compare the two and see what you think.
Bundle Post is a great tool if you are sharing a lot of the same things all of the time (Follow Fridays, hashtags, etc.). If you do a lot of bulk postings to different networks, this is definitely a tool to look into. There’s a great video demonstration of what Bundle Post does on its website. The free plan gives you one folder for each service, the $50 per month plan gives you 4, and the $100 per month plan gives you unlimited folders. Very simple structure.
Ping.fm is a simple tool to post to a substantial amount of networks simultaneously. You can post to well-known sites such as Facebook (personal and pages), Twitter, Tumblr, and WordPress and also to niche and arguably deprecated sites such as Plurk, MySpace, and Bebo. If you have a vast social media presence, you might want to look into this.
This tool enables you to schedule updates like many of the others, but its best attribute is its data and analytics features. It’s great at tracking mentions and click-throughs on Twitter, Facebook, and blogs. The interface is a little complex and will take some getting used to, but the functionality is astounding — especially for Twitter. The base account is free, but there is an optional upgrade that unlocks the best stats features.
This tool serves as a sort of social media CRM. It aggregates the contacts from your Facebook, Twitter, email, etc. and measures your interactions with them. It’s a great tool to use in order to see who you interact with the most and who you are neglecting.
Want to know what people are saying about you online. This tool can make it happen. You can set up alerts that let you know when you’ve been mentioned on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, WordPress, YouTube, and a whole host of other sites. It’s also a great way to find out about what people are saying about your competitors or your industry. It’s free and incredibly easy to use. For a simple search, it doesn’t even require you to sign up.
This tool is great for monitoring. It is like Hootsuite in that it integrates all of your social media accounts into one place. However, it enables you to view all of the updates in one feed. The interface looks a lot like Facebook and is very easy to follow.
This tool allows you to receive alerts from Twitter via email. It has a free basic service and then a premium ad-free service.
Here’s a bonus —>> Your Team!
The best and most effective tool for automating your social media is to unleash your team on it. Allow your employees to blog, to Tweet, to be Facebook Page admins, etc. Your employees can update your social media at different times and engage quickly with your connections. Turn your team loose and the results will be better than any other system available on the web.
Have you tried out any of these automation tools? What do you think about them? Am I missing something major? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Featured image courtesy of epositivity licensed via creative commons.