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When it came to defining and sharing a personal brand identity, and starting an online business, I’ve struggled with what to do and in what order. Even with paid training and coaching, it’s been like drinking from a firehose. There are so many things to do, and so many people encourage differing priorities!
I would have appreciated a brief, simple, social media marketing tool review, so I’m providing one for you.
If you like this article topic, you may also like my online marketing tool review. In fact, if you’re not certain of your online marketing strategy, start at that article first, then add social media to your online marketing strategy.
How To Interpret These Tool Reviews and Lessons Learned
I’ve ranked the tools from most useful to least, as I see them, for my own purposes.
My commentary is my experience only, and by no means a complete, formal review of the entirety of each tool or all its capabilities. Nor is any assessment an assertion that a specific tool is the best in its class or for its use. My experience and use today drives my assessments. That may change tomorrow.
Share your thoughts with me in comments below, or even by email or social media.
I use any tool long enough to get value out of it and continue using it, or to conclude it’s not a fit. I sign up for almost every web property I come across, and I usually sign up for their mailing list, unless it’s clearly just not a fit. There are many I’ve signed up and never returned after that first visit, despite their ongoing marketing emails. Each new sign-up is an exploration of how an online business has designed and built their messaging, home page, login, security, and basic features. Of course, eventually I unsubscribe from any mailing list where the underlying subject or tool just isn’t for me.
Some Questions I Ask As I Consider The Value Or Usefulness Of A Tool
- Is it intuitive?
- Is is useful to me?
- Who would use it?
- Is it a premium model (I’m the customer), free to me (I’m the product), or is it a freemium model (I can pay for more than the minimum features offered with a free product)?
Social Media Marketing Tool Review and Lessons Learned
There’s been a lot of noise around social media marketing. It’s as if social media is somehow a replacement for the fundamentals of business or marketing.
Mostly, it’s clear that the social media marketing story, and even the online marketing or digital marketing story is overblown.
Business and marketing fundamentals still apply, and they always will:
- First, you must have a product people want.
- Second, you must have a means of reaching the people who will buy your product.
- Next, you must be able to sell the product.
- You must then be able to deliver the product.
- It’s critical to have a basic means of interacting with customers before, during, after the sale, and for support:
- Customer Relationships Management (CRM) system
- Contact list
- Email list for online business or customer relationship management
- Sales letters, videos, webinars or other means of communicating your offer and enabling a sale
- Only then do you invest resources in optimizing your marketing and sales to the long tail, in social media (unless your entire business model is around social media interaction only, which is not likely. If you can share with me a business that exclusively engages with its paying customers via social media only, please tell me about them!)
- Finally, cash is always king. Money talks, and everybody else walks.
Since this entire post is about social media, a social media channel had best be first on the list. Nothing about social media can be more important than the channels themselves: all the other tools simply enable me to use the social media channels more effectively.
Facebook is the ultimate drug. Like TV, you can troll it for hours, or you can just turn it off. People do. It’s so sticky, it has become the defacto place to advertise for eyeballs in social media. For that reason alone, you must at least be aware of it as a possible component of your online marketing and social media marketing.
Avoid using it like most people use Twitter, where you just blast junk into the ether. Really share. Really interact. These are people. Forget that, and you lose all value.
I’ve run Facebook ads and received real traffic to my website. Some of that traffic opted in. It was like magic!
- Understand the difference between my personal profile page and my business pages.
- Enjoy relationships here.
- Use it as an extension of brand and product communication.
- Optimize product definition and messaging, continue advertising to prospects of my products.
- Use groups as product extensions.
- No social media marketing tool review would be complete without Twitter. For some, Twitter has become synonymous with social media marketing. This is more of the hype, I believe. My game to date has been to follow anyone and everyone who seems interesting. Many will follow back. Goal has been to get as many Followers as possible.
- Twitter lists are a great way of ensuring I know who is engaged and interested, plus how to reach them.
- Stream of conscience sharing is entertaining, and some people are monetizing it, but I don’t have a million followers or fans yet.
- It takes a ton of Followers or a lot fewer raving Fans to create critical mass online.
- Some people have 30,000 followers and they follow 32,000 people. Their followers are Followers.
- Some people have 1 million followers and they follow 3,000. Those 1 million followers are Fans, who haven’t insisted on being followed before they’ll follow.
- Enjoy relationships here.
- Convert my approach from having Followers to having Fans. Nurture Fans.
- Deliver messages specifically about things I care about. Have an agenda behind each of my messages. Implement agendas in channels and funnels.
- Dive into the analytics, combine them with analytics from Klear, Google, and others.
- Pay attention to where my audience engages.
- Give my audience more of what they use and engage.
- Find more people like my existing audience, who will also engage with what I produce.
- Expand my communication from being not only stream of conscience and the thing on my mind, to also having threads (channels and funnels and ongoing conversations, leading back to blog posts and ultimately product sales letters/landing pages) associated with my personal vision, mission, goals, and product.
- Develop a communications plan for each of these end products and agendas.
- Develop communications consistent with those communications plans. Share those communications. Implement those funnels/channels.
- Develop communications that invite followers and fans to share those product/channel journeys with me.
Enables a view into the submarkets and socioeconomics of your social media followers. While it seems deceptively interesting and not so useful, the information offered by Klear may be the most important available to you for free on the internet.
Without knowing who’s watching you, how can you know how to increase your appeal to them?
If you take nothing else away from this post, sign up for Klear and use its observations to understand who is in your audience, then ask them what they want and give it to them!
13% of my followers are authors, 10% are interested in marketing, 7% are interested in business, their average age is 32 years old, they’re mostly women in big cities in the US, UK, and India. Their average income is $49,000 annually. I never would have guessed my biggest group of followers is authors.
As I look at the data provided by Twitter Analytics, there’s an apparent discrepancy between Klear and Twitter data. Since Twitter is the vast majority of my data, I’d expect these to be more similar than they appear.
- Be aware of key follower constituencies. Define communications and products and that appeal to them.
- Look into the apparent discrepancy between Klear and Twitter Analytics data.
If Twitter is only as valuable as the list position above, Unfollowspy can be no more valuable than Twitter: Unfollowspy only works with Twitter.
However, Unfollowspy enables me to see which of my Twitter followers is inactive.
- I’ve used the strategy of maximizing followers, and one of my tactics has been to follow all of my followers (which, increasingly, seems less relevant, even as my total number of followers approaches 20,000).
- Since I follow everyone who follows me, plus those who interact with my posts, plus those who are interesting to me, I periodically run into following limits.
- However, it’s clear that followers who aren’t engaged and active on the network are of little value. They may or may not be viewing my posts, but if they’re not actively sharing or liking them, they’re not particularly useful as part of my marketing network. Nor are they even valuable to learn something from, or see something interesting or useful from.
- So, inactive followers have to go.
- Unfollowspy lets me identify and unfollow inactive followers.
It also enables me to see how many people follow me, who I don’t follow. This is the definition of true fans! Lately, I’ve seen this number rising… I’ll continue to track it more closely in my periodic reviews of total audience size.
Keep tracking followers who I don’t follow. This is the number of truly engaged fans (or, at least, of followers who don’t require me to follow them, which is a purer evidence of potential engagement).
The inactive followers search takes a while when you have a high number of followers: be patient.
Monitor the number of followers who I don’t follow. Influence it upward.
Since it only works with Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, Social Jukebox can be no more useful than one of these. Therefore, it goes below the most valuable of the three.
With the choice to use one or more of those channels, Social Jukebox becomes one of the most valuable social media marketing tools. In fact, it inspired me to write this social media marketing tool review. Social Jukebox enables a person to create a set of channels (“jukeboxes”), like the channels of a television. Each jukebox can be connected to any of the three social media channels.
Uses can configure multiple social media accounts per account. Each Social Jukebox channel can be loaded with any number of “evergreen” posts that can be run on a customizable schedule. The service comes with a free quote jukebox as an example of how it works.
- I use each jukebox channel for a specific key agenda or product I’m promoting. Then I update and refine messages as the story evolves.
- Can still use Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn as any other time. Social Jukebox posts appear on social media channel timelines with all the others.
Continue to define and refine vision, mission, goals, and products. Continue to promote accordingly.
- Manage Twitter lists. Far superior Twitter list management tool than I’ve found on Twitter!
- See your Twitter followers on a map. If you are selling online, this is useful information.
- What currency are they likely to be using?
- What time are they likely to be online?
- There are more features, but list management alone has me coming back!
I finally found a way to competently manage Twitter lists. That alone is sufficient to sign up and use this tool. Everything else is a bonus.
- Continue managing lists based on who engages my posts.
- Eliminate redundant lists.
- Create an online ‘resume’.
- Share your personal vision and mission.
- Share the results you’ve helped companies deliver.
- Join groups with similar interests and collaborate with them.
- Follow companies and get news in your feed specific to those companies.
- Connect with coworkers and interesting people.
- Build a network of professional relationships that is easy to traverse.
- Use the LinkedIn blog feature (an implementation of the WordPress.org blog) to share professional articles.
- Share your external blog posts to the LinkedIn timeline.
Use the network or it’s fundamentally useless. If you don’t use the network, it might as well be Twitter. Just a bunch of loosely connected people online. This is the classic stereotype of “social media” isn’t social. Used this way, it’s not.
- Enjoy relationships here.
- Engage my network by asking people to help define products.
- Provide testimonials of coworkers I love. Get testimonials.
- Move my blog posts from LinkedIn to my blog. Link to them from the LinkedIn timeline.
- Consider sharing key blog posts periodically to LinkedIn timeline.
- Consider whether it’s possible to use LinkedIn groups as product extensions.
No social media marketing tool review for local businesses would be complete without Yelp. I use Yelp extensively to find businesses in my area who meet desirable performance criteria, such as:
- Highly rated gluten-free restaurants open late nearby.
- Highly rated plumbers who’ll make weekend calls at no extra charge.
Many businesses near me have terrible ratings. Often it’s clear they have terrible operations that result in poor customer experience. Other times, they’re just not managing their online presence well.
Create a service and help local businesses improve their Yelp ratings.
For a long time, I experienced Foursquare as Facebook or Twitter with a location bias. Then they struggled to find a market, so they enabled adding stickers to shared photos. I wonder if this had the user appeal and created the engagement they imagined. Now, they have a user interface strikingly like Yelp, and the ability to find a business of interest. Maybe they’re trying to entice a merger or acquisition.
- Some people use the data acquired in Foursquare to ascertain popularity of locations and businesses. Very interesting in economic, traffic, and population analyses.
- Fun, interesting, not particularly useful.
Maybe I can use Foursquare to research customers for my planned Yelp reputation management service. Do you see a use I’m missing?
Take photos and share them online.
People share photos with product offers or displays or videos with product demonstrations.
Just keep sharing for interest. Eventually, as my products relate to my interests, I can share information about the promise of my products.
For now, I don’t see a meaningful business use here for me yet. Do you see a use I’m missing?
- This site is a great place to find groups in your area with interests like yours. A prefab way to get involved without doing a lot of up-front planning yourself.
- I’ve set up multiple Meetup accounts for local organizations. Definitely creates traffic.
This is a great way to get connected and engaged if you’re new in town, or if you have a new interest and aren’t sure how to proceed. I once located and attended an event at a table tennis club. Way cool! Ultimately, probably not an activity for me as a continuous pursuit, but definitely I’m glad I did it. I never would have imagined such a thing existed if I hadn’t found it on Meetup.
Also a great way for your organization to host events and meet new people with aligned interests. Warm leads!
- Enjoy relationships here.
- Use the account to find interesting activities and people.
- Continue to use the account to create channels for outreach and to find warm participants.
Pinterest is like a corkboard where a user can collect web pages and images of interest, and classify them into categories of interest, for example:
- Purple houses
- Places I’d like to visit
There are people who use it for marketing, but they mostly sell products. It appears Pinterest has become social media marketing tool of choice for many product and affiliate marketers.
I don’t see a business use in this for me yet.
Do you see a use I’m missing?
- Really an amazing set of features. Sort of enables you to manage your twitter account the way a day trader might manage their financial accounts. Unclear all this activity will have a net value add for me the user.
- Identifies people to unfollow, presumably because they have low follower counts themselves.
- Identifies people to follow, presumably because they are like your existing followers.
- Also enables automated direct messages to new followers.
- Horrible mobile user interface.
This tool has a lot of promise, but the mobile user interface is horrible. Most of the valuable features can be accomplished with other tools, more efficiently. I’d like to be able to find users with lower follower or activity counts and target them for unfollowing, but if that’s the only distinguishing factor for this product, it’s not really worth maintaining this additional account and logging in from the computer, or suffering through the abominable mobile user interface.
No further use anticipated. I don’t see a practical business use for me that isn’t already covered by other more useable tools.
Do you see a use I’m missing that isn’t already covered by another tool like Heroic Social, or can’t just be done in the Twitter user interface?
A dashboard for managing social media channels, multiple accounts, multiple views. I believe Tweetdeck is similar.
This is probably a useful tool for high activity account social medias that need to be managed by multiple people. I picture a situation where I travel and send out a message to an airline on Twitter, for doing great work. Somehow, the airline responds in minutes. Someone has to be there 24×7 to watch that account and respond, in both good and bad situations. This is probably a dedicated social media customer service expert, or it’s a customer service staff member with an additional expertise in managing the social media queue.
No further use anticipated. I don’t see a practical business use for me now.
Do you see a use I’m missing?
Finally, Buffer enables you to stockpile posts to Twitter (and maybe other social media sites) and deliver them at a later time.
To me, this is a pretty hollow feature. A person or a team would have to spend a lot of time making new, unique posts to get so far ahead of themselves they’d actually have a surplus and want to dole them out slowly over time.
If post creation was automated, this might make more sense, however, I don’t see how one would meaningfully automate valuable posts ad infinitum.
Perhaps this is useful to queue up posts in a specific order for a product launch, or while you go on vacation.
In general, Social Jukebox is a better, generally more useful tool.
No further use anticipated. I don’t see a practical business use of this tool for me.
Do you see a use I’m missing?
Looks like this Heroic Social did not survive 2018…
Consider And Act
- Do you have a different experience of one or more of the above? Please share!
- What other social media marketing tools have you used successfully, or not so much?
- What other social media marketing tools would you recommend I consider using?
- Would you be willing to share a social media marketing tool review and/or lessons learned for me to host on this site?
- Is there a tool you’d like me to write up in a future social media marketing tool review and/or lessons learned?
- SMM-Jigsaw-Banner: photo by greyweed on flickr. Link.
- man riding piggy bank:
- clear piggy bank: photo by Pogonici on iStock. Link.
Also published on Medium.