Best Social Media Marketing Tools

5 Best Social Media Marketing Tools for Small Businesses

There are more than 3.4 billion people who actively use social media globally, and this number grows by up to 9% every year. With these figures in mind, marketers know that if their businesses are not where this growing, massive audience is, they stand to lose big time.

Every business needs the right social media marketing tools to grow. As such, you will need tools that help you to create and share valuable content that attracts and converts new audiences.

There is a wide array of social media marketing tools today. These tools are classified based on their function.

Top Functions Include:

  • Curation
  • Scheduling
  • Analytics
  • Engagement
  • Monitoring
  • Automation

You can get a social media marketing tool that can perform more than one of these functions. You will need to know what goals you are aiming to achieve before you choose any tool. Additionally, you need to know who your audience is and on which platform they are on. This will guide you to make a marketing campaign in the right platform, with valuable content and to quality leads.

There are countless platforms and tools you can use to implement your social media marketing strategy.

Here’s a quick look into some of the most widely used tools as well as platforms with inbuilt tools.


1. Hootsuite

If you are a business that is focused on maximum online visibility, you have probably signed up with as many social media platforms as possible. However, you are probably finding it time consuming to manage, monitor and analyze the effort on each platform. Here is where Hootsuite comes in.

Hoootsuite - Best Social Media Marketing Tools

Hootsuite gives you one dashboard for all your social media accounts. It makes it easy for you to manage and schedule posts on various social media platforms. It is convenient and ideal for businesses that do not have a lot of marketing resources.

This tool also allows several team members to manage different aspects of the accounts for faster interactions with potential clients.

How to Use Hootsuite for Business

  • Sign up on Hootsuite and create your account. Select the plan you need and fill your information following the prompts
  • Add your social media profiles to the Hootsuite account. From the launch menu, select stream and click on ‘Add Social Network’, connect then authorize the platforms to be managed on the Hootsuite dashboard
  • Set up a stream for each of your social media platforms and use tabs to organize them into manageable groups
  • Use the composer to create and schedule posts on your social media platforms.
  • From the Hootsuite App directory, select and install any of the extra apps you think you need to make your social media marketing more effective. You can also get Hootlet, a browser extension that allows you to share content easily
  • Start your collaborations and invite team member. Get Hootsuite mobile apps as well

Once you are through with the set-up, choose an authentication method for your Hootsuite account. This is found under the Settings tab.

How Much Does Hootsuite Cost?

There are 3 plans available for your, all of which come with a 30 day free trial.

  • The Professional Package costs $19 per month for a single user and 10 social media profiles
  • The Team package is $99 per month for 3 users and 20 profiles
  • The Business Package is $599 per month for up to 10 users and 35 profiles

Enterprise Package is meant for custom solutions. If you feel like none of the platforms above will efficiently and effectively meet your needs, you can always request a demo for a custom solution.

Key Features

  • Content curation, management and sharing on social platforms made easy
  • Scheduling content sharing keeps your platforms active even when you are away
  • Promote the most effective content from the Hootsuite dashboard
  • Easy analytics of the marketing efforts on your social media platforms from one dashboard
  • Social media monitoring and timely responses
  • Contact and content management, customer targeting, conversion tracking, brand tracking, and keyword filtering
  • Hootsuite team management makes assignments and workflow flexible and easy
  • Hootsuite integrates apps and hundreds of tools to help you grow your business
  • Hootsuite’s security features protects your brand

Cons

  • Hootsuite allows you to schedule posts with multiple images but when the post goes live on the platform, all the images are posted as separate posts
  • The UI is not the easiest to use, especially for someone who is new to it
  • Profiles can randomly get de-linked which requires you to sign into those platforms to reconnect and authenticate connection
  • The reports and custom URL shortening features are expensive for small businesses

2. Buffer

If you are looking for a tool that will help you schedule posts on multiple social media platforms, Buffer should be on the list of considerations. You can manage your Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Facebook accounts from one Buffer dashboard.

Buffer - Best Social Media Marketing Tools

Buffer also allows you to share to your platforms any content you find interesting. The browser extension makes this sharing easy. You will have the opportunity to write a befitting caption for the link you wish to share.

How to Use Buffer for Business

Start by signing up on buffer. You can choose the free account or a paid plan depending on your social media marketing needs.

  • Once you sign up, you will get a navigation bar with 4 tabs which allow you to create content, schedule the posts and check on the analytics, and a settings tab. The content tab allows you to queue posts. It also offers suggestions for interesting topics.
  • Click on the schedule tab.  You can schedule different posts for each social media platform. Set the date and time you’d like the post to go live on each of the accounts. Remember to select your preferred time zone.
  • The settings tab allows you to perform such tasks as managing team members, shortening links, connecting or disconnecting social accounts and emptying queued posts

How Much Does Buffer Cost?

Buffer pricing plans are divided into two – publishing packages and analytics packages.

  • Pro Publishing Package goes for $15 per month for 8 social media accounts, 100 posts  and 1 user
  • The Premium Publishing Package goes for $65 per month for 8 accounts, 2000 posts and 2 users
  • The Business Publishing Package goes for $99 per month for 25 accounts, 2000 posts and 6 users
  • The Pro Analyze Plan costs $35 per month for in-depth social analysis and reports on 8 social accounts
  • The Premium Analyze Plan goes for $50 a month for 10 social media accounts’ analytics, reports, strategy recommendations and Shopify integration

Each of these plans come with a 14 day free trial, and is payable either monthly or annually (at 20% discount).

Key Features

  • Reasonably priced and easy to use with simple layout
  • Multi-media format, multiple posts on multiple platforms
  • Free image creation tool
  • Custom schedule for posts and tweets
  • Social profiles management and business planning
  • In-depth social analytics, insights and stats comparison
  • Android and iOS support
  • Allows team collaboration

Cons

  • There is no way to monitor engagements on social platforms via Buffer
  • Randomly disconnects social accounts or can’t tag users

3. Sprout Social

This is a one-stop tool where you can curate your content, schedule, publish and get analytics and reports. It is made for niche and full service agencies, businesses, entrepreneurs and corporations alike. This social management tool partners and integrates well with the popular social media platforms.

Sprout Social - Best Social Media Marketing Tools

How to Use Sprout Social for Business

Sprout social is not too complicated – you can easily follow the prompts to achieve the results you are looking for. Here is a simplified process on how to get started.

  • To sign up, fill in the details then click on create an account
  • On the dashboard, add the profiles that you want to manage
  • Compose the posts you want to publish and schedule them accordingly following the prompts
  • You can check messages and tweeter feed from the dashboard
  • Create a publishing calendar and queue the posts you’d like to publish
  • Get inspired by using the keyword research and the discovery tab
  • Check out the analytics

If you are stuck at any point, you can check the tutorials and other resources on their website. Additionally, you can set up a demo account to familiarize yourself with the system. Sprout Social integrations include Google Analytics, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Zendesk.

How Much Does Sprout Social Cost?

Sprout Social has 3 pricing plans. Note that there is a 30 day free trial, and you do not need a credit card to take advantage of the free trial.

  • The Standard Plan costs $99 per user every month for 5 social accounts
  • The Professional Plan costs $149 every month for each user for 10 social accounts
  • The Advanced Plan costs $249 per user per month for 10 social accounts and a host of other tools

All paid plans allow you to customize the social monitoring and analytic tools. You can also customize any other add on that is allowed in the plan you purchase.

Key Features

Here are some of the features that are available.

  • The dashboard is well organized, with everything arranged in neat columns, the main tabs clearly shown
  • Allows scheduling and posting across all linked social accounts from the Sprout Social dashboard
  • The smart inbox that allows you to moderate comments monitor engagement across all linked account from one inbox
  • Real time monitoring of location, hashtag and brand searches
  • You can view the history of conversations and contacts shared across all social accounts
  • Sprout Social detects when another team member is viewing or attending to a query and alerts all team members to avoid collision
  • You are allowed to customize the mobile notifications sent across the social accounts
  • The platform turns queries sent through the platform into tasks that can be acted upon and allows assigning to team members as well as facilitates efficient follow-up
  • The tool tracks social account activities, queries, replies, reply time and individual user level
  • Android and iOS support to power up mobile engagement
  • Easily accessible analytics and aggregate trends
  • Periodic reports are available in a variety of options per social account

Cons

  • The costs are a tad high for small businesses
  • There is a limit to the number of social accounts you can add to the platform for easy management

4. Facebook

This is one of the most popular platforms and it comes with a couple of in built social media marketing tools. There are more than 2 billion active users on this platform. Facebook ranks third to Google and YouTube on the world’s most visited websites list.

Facebook - Best Social Media Marketing Tools

Facebook comes with a range of self-serve tools that allow you to create, schedule and share content as well as analyze and get reports on all the marketing efforts carried out. The platform also makes it easy for small businesses to win clients just as easily as bigger companies with larger marketing budgets.  Here are some of the tools that Facebook offers.

  • Groups are tools designed to allow brands to share insights and drive conversations. Groups allow you to invite members who in turn invite others thereby widening the reach and boosting conversation through user generated content. They set apart the brand as an expert in their industry.
  • Insights help businesses know more about the responses of their audience to their content. This tool gives information such as the number of people reached by a post and the number of reactions to the post.
  • Video tool allows businesses to create motion pictures that invite the audience to more personal interactions. You get the option to do a live video in real time or post a native video.
  • Facebook ads make it easy for businesses of all sizes to promote themselves to wider audiences. Facebook ad campaigns are generally used to get new leads, drive traffic to an ecommerce store or website, convert leads to paying customers as well as boost brand awareness. The best thing about the ads is that they can be in text, picture, video, offers or a combination of two of these.

How to Use Facebook for Business

Facebook is a platform that allows both organic and paid traffic to generate leads. You can use the platform on its own as marketing tool, or use it to drive traffic to other sites. Here is a quick guide on how to use Facebook to grow your business.

  • Create a business page. Log into your personal account and create a business page. Choose the type of page that best suits your business from the options given and fill in your details.
  • Fill up your page info. You can use your business logo as the profile photo and a brand image as a cover photo. Edit business description, contact information and other options such as hours of operation, privacy policy and the prices for what you are selling.
  • Get a custom username for your page to make it easy for prospects to find you. Add a few CTAs to make it easy for your audience to engage with your business or make enquiries with one click.
  • Review your security and privacy settings
  • Create a content strategy. This is the part where you plan the content that will best attract your target audience as well as select the most effective times to post the content. Your content can be in form of text, photo (which can be an image, graphic, info graphic, illustration or any other still visual), video (live or pre-recorded), link or poll
  • Post the content or schedule it to be posted later on.
  • Keep monitoring the response of your target audience to various content types and do more of what gets you the results you want.

How Much Does Facebook Cost?

You can use Facebook free of charge to get organic traffic. You will not be charged for creating a business page or posting content to your page. However, if you intend to advertise your business on the platform, you will be required to pay.

Facebook has several billing models, all of which can be customized to suit your budget. You can set the amount you want to spend, the number of days you want to run the ad, the number of people you’d like to reach as well as the location of your target audience.

  • CPC – cost per click
  • CPM – cost per thousand impressions
  • CPA – cost per download
  • CPL – cost per like

You can also make use of Facebook Ad auction

Key Features

Facebook is one of those platforms that roll out new features every so often. This is usually in response to the rapidly changing needs of the consumer market. As such, you need to constantly update your knowledge and skills.

Top Facebook features for businesses include:

  • Insights help you keep an eye on competition on the “Pages to Watch” tab under Overview setting
  • You can export your business page data for analytics
  • News feed targeting feature allows for audience optimization
  • Facebook ad relevance score shows you the effectiveness of your paid campaigns
  • Facebook free stock images gives you access to a selection of HD images you can use for your content
  • Facebook Pixel can be installed on the website to help in retargeting
  • Section management, calls to action, content scheduling, and page moderation
  • Event app on the page allows you to schedule and host events that drive traffic to desired destination
  • The “when fans are online” tab on Posts feature informs on best time to reach your audience

Cons

Facebook constantly changes its algorithm in a bid to make it easier for users to get what they are looking for as well as increase their opportunities to earn. A few years back, Facebook implemented an algorithm that cut organic reach of business pages by 90%. This means that you now had to pay to reach the number of people you previously reached organically.

  • No control – your business is subject to the regular changes that Facebook makes
  • Low conversion rates
  • Running a Facebook marketing campaign requires skills and a budget

5. Instagram

This is a photo and video sharing platform that is fast gaining popularity as a viable platform where businesses can make sales. Instagram has more than 1 billion active monthly users, with 200 million of them visiting a least one business page daily.

Instagram - Best Social Media Marketing Tools

Instagram comes with a range of inbuilt tools that help any business to attract and engage targeted customers. You can link your Instagram profile with your Facebook profile such that you only post once but the content appears on both platforms. You can also choose to manage these two platforms separately.

Here are some of the tools that come with Instagram social media platform.

  • Stories appear above the feed, and are accessible for only 24 hours after the content is posted. You can design ads to appear in the stories section for brand awareness, announce discounts and call for user generated content.
  • Instagram videos are either pre-recorded or live. Instagram live feature appears on top of the user feed and the recorded content it is available for viewing for 24 hours. IG live videos are perfect for live Q & A or help generate excitement over a product or service
  • The leads ads tool collects contacts from potential clients in a way that doesn’t get them off Instagram.

How to Use Instagram for Business

  • Set up a business account. You can set up one from scratch or convert a personal account into a business account.
  • Create an Instagram marketing strategy. Start by defining your target audience then focus on the performance metrics. Be sure to post regularly and switch up content types for differing audiences
  • Complete and optimize your business profile by using your brand images, logos and voice. Be sure to add clickable links to valuable landing pages such as your website, ecommerce store or current event or campaign. Add contact information and CTA buttons and any other information you believe your clients should know at first glance
  • Create and strategically share visually aesthetic content that represents your brand. You can use promotional features such as clickable branded hash-tags on post captions. You can also create a signature style on your visuals that is instantly recognized as your brand.
  • Compelling captions, great stories on the IG stories feature as well as high quality visuals are essential in engaging your audience. In order to grow your influence, engage by responding to comments and mentions. Additionally, promote your business on other channels and work with influencers
  • Instagram ads help businesses reach wider audiences. Be strategic about your paid campaigns so that you can have a higher return on investment
  • Instagram analytic tools will help you track the results of various types of content, which gives valuable insights as to what is most effective for the target audience

How Much Does Instagram Cost?

Opening a business account or converting your personal Instagram account to a business account is free. You also post whatever content you want without being charged. However, you will be charged for any ads you wish to put up.

The ad cost will depend on the bid price, quality and relevance, competition, and audience targeting. The estimated action rates, ad delivery optimization as well as placement and the time of the year also affect the overall cost of the ads. If you want to advertise on the platform, you will have to engage one or more of these ad models.

  • Cost per click – CPC – chargeable for every person that clicks on the ad, the average cost is from $0.2 to $2
  • Cost per 1000 impressions – CPM – chargeable for every 1000 potential clients who view the ad, with the average cost being $5

The platform is flexible, and allows you to set a budget, duration, demographics and targeted location for each ad.

Key Features

Instagram has incorporated a range of features that can be used to grow businesses.

  • Instagram stories where you can post location and hash tag optimized live and pre-recorded videos, images and GIFs. You can experiment with the pots as well as show collaborations through tagging and allowing repost with mentions
  • Instagram live allows you post real time videos of desired lengths. This can be perfect any important business information that do not really fit on the profile or timeline, but should be communicated anyway
  • Instagram integrates with websites to allow profile visitors to visit the business website with one click. You can redirect your Instagram traffic to your ecommerce store or a particular page of your website
  • Instagram algorithm monitors the kind of content that your target audience interacts with and pushes similar content to the top of their feed. Understanding this and using it effectively will give your business better visibility
  • Action buttons, mentions, links on bio, re-share/repost, question stickers in IG stories and IGTV broadcast for longer videos
  • Push notifications keeps your target audience engaged

Cons

  • Your targeted audience might not be on Instagram
  • It is cumbersome to use non-mobile devices to post content on Instagram
  • Instagram reduces visibility of business accounts to increase the likelihood for paid advertising

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What Is Social Media Marketing?

Simply put, social media marketing is mainly using social platforms to reach out to and engage potential clients in an effort to build a brand as well as increase sales. Social media platforms are all about sharing content that resonates with the targeted leads.

Social media platforms allow you to reach your target audience organically or through paid advertising. Businesses have come up with effective strategies that combine valuable content and paid advertising to widen their reach.

There are several platforms and tools that help businesses create effective social media marketing strategies. These tools help businesses perform such tasks as content creation, scheduling and publishing as well as other backend insights such as research and analytics.

The most popular social media platforms that are used to grow businesses and corporations alike are Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Yelp.

2. How Does Social Media Marketing Work?

Social media marketing is basically an amplified, online version of word of mouth. It is people talking about your business online. It is about people sharing information that about your business in image, video or text form as well as links to your website or other platforms.

There are some skills needed to increase your chances of getting people to know and talk about your business. These are referred to as social media optimization skills. This is the part of the marketing where you learn which platform to use, who is on the platform, how to best and effectively get to your audience on the platforms, and how to analyze the results of your effort.

Social media marketing functions have to include the following tasks if it is to be effective.

a. Research and understand the market conditions, your potential clients’ needs and your competitors. Look at the type of communication that they best respond to and use that.

b. Look out for opportunities that allow you to engage with your audience in a way that gives the most effective results. Get to know the trends in your industry and use them to curate your content.

c. Create social media marketing strategies that will help you to identify and formulate opportunities that will help you achieve your business goals. This should include a content creation and marketing strategy.

d. Consider crafting a paid advertising strategy to increase your reach.

e. Constantly review the results of your efforts. Play around with different content types and varying publishing times to know what works best.

It is important to note that each platform has its rules. As such, it is important to thoroughly understand the platforms on which the largest numbers of your target clients are. This in-depth knowledge will help you to optimize your content so that the target audience can easily find it, engage with it and share it out to their friends

3. Is Digital Marketing the Same as Social Media Marketing?

No. Social media marketing is a small part of digital marketing. While social marketing involves marketing efforts on social platforms, digital marketing refers to all marketing efforts done online.

Digital marketing is comprised of the following tasks.

a. Website Marketing which includes having a well-designed, responsive website for business branding, credibility and boost online presence.

b. Search Engine Optimization or commonly called SEO, is a series of tasks that ensures that anyone who searches for products or services you offer will see your business.

c. Content Marketing involves creating and promoting content that will attract, engage and convert target audience to loyal clients and brand ambassadors.

d. Social Media Marketing involves the use of social platforms to promote business operations. These include customer relations as well as promote your products and drives traffic to desired pages or sites.

e. Paid Advertising can be done on various channels. For starters, Google ads can be effective, so are social media ads. There are several types of paid ads models, all of which have differing results and costs.

f. Email Marketing involves sending branded emails to target audience to communicate special promotions, events and establish authority in the industry.

4. What Are the Benefits of Social Media Marketing?

There are more than 3 billion active social media users globally who are engaging with brands daily. As such, the brands that are not building a strong social media presence are missing out on one of the world’s most affordable, effective and fast ways to reach a good percentage of their potential clients.

Here are some of the benefits of Social Media Marketing.

a. It builds your brand, increases awareness as well as gives the business a human touch

b. Giving consistent high value content establishes you as an industry thought leader

c. Using multiple platforms keeps your brand on their mind as many people check different platforms multiple times a day.

d. Social media marketing is a good source of website traffic. You can use it to advertise products, services, events and offers and share a link to the desired landing page

e. It is a low commitment way to generate leads as target audience may be interested but not ready to make a purchase as yet. Constant engagement nurtures them to conversion

f. Social media business profiles are excellent sales funnels as more people use social networks for shopping

g. Partnering with social media influencers increases brand awareness, and consequently, sales go up

h. Social accounts are critical channels through which to create, distribute and promote high value, well researched content that help your audience make informed purchases

i. Social platforms give good ideas for content creation. You can get ideas through social listening or encouraging user generated content

j. Use social accounts for reputation management and crisis communications. It is very easy for a big brand to have a crisis if even the slightest mistake happens and it goes viral. Smaller brands may not have this challenge.

k. Social networks allow businesses to engage directly with their customers and target audience. This is unlike traditional media brand communication which is one way

l. Social media platforms are critical channels through which the business gives customer service and support. It is an avenue that allows you to quickly respond to any customer query

m. You can use social media platforms to monitor your target audience’s conversations with your band as well as competitors in your industry.

n. The conversation on social platforms can help you gauge the general sentiment towards your brand as well as that of competition

o. Social media is a good option for targeted advertising based on the demographics of your ideal potential client. The platforms also allow re-targeting.

p. Social media platforms come with tracking and analytics tools that help marketer to prove ROI. There are other tools such as Google Analytics and Hootsuite that help you to track traffic, conversions, sign-ups ad ROI from social media, both organic and paid.

5. Tips and Strategies for Social Media Marketing

If you are to get our marketing right, start with the right foundation. Here are the basics.

a. Always ensure that all your business profiles are updated and complete. If there are any changes in say hours of operation or contact information, be sure to communicate that information and update your profile.

b. Promote your business profiles on other platforms. For example, you can promote your YouTube account on your Instagram account using a simple link

c. Always avail the official contact information such as the business email address or phone number to new audience members who reach out

d. Keep measuring the effects of your marketing efforts. Get periodic reports and analytics

Here are some tips to be a pro at social media marketing.

a. Create a social media marketing strategy for each platform. This is because each platform has its best practices for optimal engagement, demographics as well as a favorite content type. Learn about each platform’s algorithms so as to best take advantage of your opportunities

b. Consistently post high quality content on your platforms. There are some platforms that require only one post every other day while other platforms such as Instagram may need multiple posts at different times of the day.

c. Focus on optimization for each platform. This includes being aware of the platform demographics and optimal content type. Always craft messaging that will resonate with your target audience

d. Be informed about trends. Each platform has its own trends and patterns that you can capitalize on to drive conversation and engagement.

e. Look at the analytics for each platform. Look at the reach, engagement and impressions metrics for each platform and make improvements where necessary.

f. Keep up with the algorithm shifts. Don’t be tempted to look for quick fixes. Instead, understand the changes, why they have been implemented and adjust your marketing strategy


Final Thoughts

With over 3 billion active users monthly, social media marketing is and will continue to grow as an important part of business marketing. As such, it is important that each business learns how to use the platforms and tools available.

Social media platforms are always being updated, and the rules are always changing. Algorithms are released every so often that force marketers to learn all new strategies in order to keep up their game. Therefore, keep learning about the improvements in digital platforms to stay on top of your game.


A Day in the Life of a Hootsuite Social Media Manager