By Jennie Wong
The Charlotte Observer.
Are you using the latest social media tools?
The do’s and don’ts of social media may be familiar to you by now. As a business owner, you know you need an online presence on the right platforms, and you know your posts should add value, be visual and happen consistently.
If you’re a solopreneur or have a small team, there’s likely little time for social media on top of everything else.
Luckily, there are more and better social media tools than ever, and many are free to use. Here’s a sample of what the cool kids are using these days.
SCHEDULE POSTS: There are many third-party tools for posting to Facebook and Twitter and their brethren, but all the chatter seems to be about Hootsuite versus Buffer. In a nutshell, Buffer leads on points for simplicity and Hootsuite leads on points for capability. If you’re managing social for just your own business, check out Buffer first, then Hootsuite. If you’re a professional social media manager, you’re probably already using Hootsuite.
DESIGN GRAPHICS: Charlotte, N.C.-based social media content specialist Katie Harding recommends PicMonkey for its ease of use and range of graphic design options, including photo editing, touch-up, collage and social media covers.
Also worth a try is new entrant Canva, which is purpose-built for social media graphics and virtually eliminates the need for sizing or a separate stock photo source. Canva also offers design tutorials on everything from cropping to color schemes and a blog dedicated to better social media posting.
FILL YOUR FEED: Social media strategist Beth Blecherman, who was named one of Time Magazine’s 140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2011, recommends news aggregator Feedly. “I like Feedly because it pulls in updates from my favorite news sites and then I can share directly from that stream, either to a platform like Facebook or Twitter, or to a posting tool like Hootsuite or Buffer.”
I also recently discovered a new mobile app: Daily, by Buffer, is a great add-on for people who already use Buffer (a number that topped 1 million last year). The mobile interface works by swiping single content “cards” either to the left to dismiss, or to the right to add to your scheduled posts.
The Daily app was brought my attention by the website Product Hunt, created by Ryan Hoover as a daily leaderboard of new software products, many of which are relevant to social media. Because if you want to stay current on the fast-forward world of social media tools, you’ll need a tool for that as well.
EXAMPLES OF SOCIAL MEDIA SUCCESS:
What are some ways you can use social media to your advantage? The Charlotte Observer asked the creative minds at local ad agency Tattoo Projects, recently ranked one of the top small ad agencies in the country by Advertising Age magazine, for ways businesses can use social media in a productive way. Associate creative director Chad Brophy and senior art director Justin Rentzel explain ways social media can be useful:
-Measuring return on investment: Brophy says one of the top benefits of social media is gauging whether customers are paying attention to you. “LinkedIn is showing massive engagement score,” Brophy said, particularly through its Influencer program, featuring essays and articles by well-known business people.
-Complementing existing campaigns: Tattoo Projects recently launched a traditional TV campaign for the Sheetz convenience store chain, and also used Facebook and Twitter to promote the “Sheetz Do No Wrong” commercials on YouTube. “With moderate Facebook promotion, it’s already up 200,000 views,” Brophy said.
For another client, Outlaw, a deck screw company, Tattoo Projects launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign and used Facebook and Twitter to draw attention to it. The funding campaign generated $109,000 – exceeding its $100,000 goal, Brophy said.
-Finding inspiration: Brophy said while he’s not an intense user of Pinterest, a social media site that allows users to maintain virtual pin boards with images from the Web, he uses it as inspiration to organize examples of strong design and good ads.
-To show that you are savvy in what you have to say: “I’m a firm believer that social media is only as effective as the content you put out there,” Rentzel said. “(Use) it as a vehicle to carry a message, to carry content.” He says the best tools for that are still Facebook and Twitter, which “forces you to tell a story in 140 characters or less.”
“People these days have such a short attention span,” Rentzel said. “If it’s not interesting content, nobody’s going to read it.”
-By Celeste Smith, Charlotte Observer
ABOUT THE WRITER
Jennie Wong is an executive coach, author of the e-book “Ask the Mompreneur” and the creator of the product quiz website www.ABorC.com.