Running a small business takes a lot of time, especially if you are just starting out as an entrepreneur. You have to manage your website, your products, your finances and your development plans. And that’s not all! You must also build and execute your social media marketing strategy if you want to find and engage more potential clients.
That’s a lot of work for you – and you may find out that your work life is encroaching more and more on your personal life. However, other entrepreneurs just like you thought about making life easier for everyone running a business, large or small. And they developed a series of online tools which automate a large part of your marketing and social media activities.
After testing and doing benchmark tests for many of such tools (and considering subscription prices, as well) we have come up with the definitive list of 5 must-have tools to manage your social media activity without losing too much valuable time.
Let’s get started with the list of recommendations!
Buffer is great because it is free for up to 3 social media accounts. For a small business, it is quite enough to start with. As far as its functionalities go, they are not many, but solid and extremely helpful for you. Buffer helps you schedule your social media posts. That’s right, you create your social media plan for one week and in a few minutes you schedule all your posts for your social media accounts.
But that’s not all that Buffer is great for your business. It is a very powerful tool for content curation. This means that you are presented with a selection of trending articles in your niche, which you can share on your social media, or use for inspiration to create more valuable content for your followers.
Just like Buffer, Hootsuite allows you to schedule posts and find curated contend. What Hootsuite offers extra is analytics. This means that you obtain clear data on your social media posts and ad campaigns in terms of how many likes, shares and the reach you achieved for each of them.
The free version of Hootsuite is limited to one user and 5 social media accounts, with limited analytics reporting, and the Pro version offers 2 user accounts and 15 social media accounts for $10 per months. The really great thing is that you get 30 days free trial for the Pro account to test that this is the right option for you.
3. Sprout Social
Sprout Social helps you keep an eye on all the messages you receive on the social media and know exactly how popular your small business is. The detailed Inbox attached to your Sprout Social account includes all the mentions of your business on Facebook and Twitter, and direct messages your page received on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Moreover, Sprout Social offers highly detailed analytics reports for your social media activity and, within 24 hours after signing up, you get the full demographic details of your followers on all your social media accounts with suggestions for improving your engagement with them. Impressive, isn’t it?
All these benefits can be yours for $39 per month for the Small Biz Plan, which allows you to add up to 20 social media profiles.
Bitly started out as a simple URL shortener. As time passed and it became more and more popular, the developers behind Bitly decided to add more features to it. The greatest benefit is that you get full reports for your shortened Bitly URLs shared on the social media: how many people clicked on it and from what social media platform.
Even in its basic functionality, Bitly is extremely helpful. Long URLs do not look very good on the social media and are quite impossible to share on Twitter (where you have a limit of 140 characters).
This it not a social media tool per se, but it is extremely helpful for your email marketing campaigns (an integral part of your online marketing strategy). You can schedule all your newsletter and blog posts to be notified by emails to your subscribers and you can also post the email campaign content on Facebook and Twitter, as well.
There you have it, five very useful and affordable social media and marketing automation tools, which will make your life simpler and easier. Use them, and running your small business will not be as time consuming as it used to be.