If you're a retailer, your social media activities can have a huge impact on your customers. In fact, according to research from global marketing firm Epsilon, social media activities have a greater impact on consumers than any other channel—including search engines and the retailer’s own website.
As these activities grow more lucrative, the social media marketing software landscape is diversifying and expanding to meet the needs of retailers. There are now plenty of options in terms of software features and functionality. But this can also make choosing the right system confusing for first-time buyers.
This guide will help you understand social media marketing software and choose the best system for your needs. Here’s what we’ll cover:
Broadly speaking, social media marketing software is designed to help companies engage with social media users in the hopes that some of them will convert to paying customers.
These tools offer a range of capabilities to help companies:
Some platforms, known as social media marketing suites, offer a broad feature set encompassing multiple capabilities. ''Best-of-breed'' systems, on the other hand, offer one particular application that is among the best in its class.
Below is a list of common social media marketing tools. These may be bundled as part of a social media marketing suite, or offered as stand-alone, best-of-breed applications.
Social media management. Helps companies publish content to social media platforms and manage creative assets. Often includes some degree of monitoring and analytics. Allows users to establish a social media presence and maintain an active voice on social media platforms.
Social media monitoring. Identifies brand mentions (and/or words used in association with brands); locates where on social media platforms those conversations are occurring. This helps companies respond quickly to customer inquiries, target marketing messages to the most receptive social media users and understand how social media users feel about their brand.
Social media analytics. Provides the means for tracking, measuring and reporting on social media accounts and campaign performance. This helps companies understand what’s working and helps tie social media efforts to revenue.
Social influencer. Finds social media participants that are interested in, or influential on, a particular topic, then helps companies identify those participants’ spheres of influence. Once identified, businesses can reach out to these social media users and encourage them to act as brand advocates.
Before evaluating social marketing software, it’s helpful to consider your type of business and social media marketing experience. We believe that most buyers fall into one of the following two categories:
Small business, or new to social media. Small businesses, or those just starting to grow their social media marketing operations, may not yet need the robust functionality of a social media marketing suite. Small businesses may want to consider starting with best-of-breed options, later combining that with additional platforms as they scale.
Enterprise, or significant social media presence. Larger businesses, and/or those with well-developed social media marketing operations, should consider a social media marketing suite. These better support organizations with more complex, diverse campaigns. Alternatively, consider combining multiple systems.
When combining multiple platforms, look for those that integrate well with the other systems and tools you’re using. For example, existing social media marketing, marketing automation, CRM (customer relationship management) or social CRM systems.
There are some other things to consider as you compare social marketing tools. These considerations can not only affect which system is right for you, but also the price of your new software.
Choose which social channels to target. Some social media marketing systems support only certain social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc.). Be sure to look for software that supports the social media networks you use.
Decide how many people will use the system. Social media marketing platforms are often priced by number of social profiles or number of users. Make sure to identify how many users will need to access the platform so you can accurately evaluate the cost of systems and compare vendor offerings.
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