A social media marketing technology stack is a group of technology-based tools that marketers use to efficiently and effectively work together and execute marketing activities, across various channels.
Why is social media marketing technology (aka martech) important? Because martech helps social marketers evolve with the changing needs of the customer. The tools within the stack are assisting marketers to get the right message in front of the right customers – at the right time.
Gone are the days of “one-size-fits-all” promotional messaging – the modern marketer needs a stack of tools to deliver personalized, contextual content to new customers, converting leads, and helping companies’ overall bottom lines. That means better ROI and a happier C-suite.
Common Challenges with Social Media Marketing
Social media has indeed had a significant impact on businesses over the last decade. Social media platforms have entirely altered the way in which individuals communicate. As a result, how various companies interact with customers has also transformed. However, the influence of social media is not merely restricted to customer engagement. Several departments – like human resources, sales, and product development – have launched successful campaigns.
Developing a Robust Social Media and Content Marketing Strategy
When it comes to the list of challenges in social media marketing, developing a strategy and creating the content to move the strategy are the items that top the list. It is indeed quite daunting and intimidating to come up with the right strategy. But once you get a proper idea, there’s no looking back. To start with, come up with a list of your social media and content marketing goals and objectives. Make sure you are specific about implementing them. Now, choose the right metrics for monitoring the goals you have set. To ensure that your efforts pay off, concentrate more on relevant, useful and customer-centric content. Then, in social media focus on link clicks, shares, community engagement, reach and leads.
Who and Where is Your Audience?
According to research, about 66% of the adults in the US use social media and 74% among them use it for making a buying decision. With figures like these, it is imperative for your business to be active on social media. First, you must exactly understand your audience or buyer personas, and then map their journey to becoming a customer. From there you can think about how to choose the right social platforms to participate in by comparing the demographics of leading social networks and where your target audience spends the maximum time.
Create Your Social Media Content Process and Workflow
Creating valuable, relevant, quality content is hard. It takes time, effort, energy, resources, and knowledge. Most of this—in smaller and medium-sized businesses—is wrapped up in the expert owners who are also tasked with running the business, serving the clients, and managing the marketing and outreach. Then you overlay the marketing execution and content distribution, includings its process, team collaboration, project management and posting or scheduling of the content in some technology tool or native channel.
EVERYTHING STARTS WITH PLANNING AND ANSWERING QUESTIONS LIKE THESE
1. Who is on the team?
2. What are they in charge of?
3. How do we collaborate?
4. What other resources do we have to utilize or need to incorporate?
5. What is our workflow and approval process?
6. Who needs access to the information?
After that, your typical planning process would start by laying out a content calendar and social media distribution plan. From there you will begin to identify the needed resources to develop that content and the timeline you have to execute those items.
DOCUMENT MANAGEMENT, WORKFLOW, AND COMMUNICATION TOOLS
Google Docs: This is what we use at Inbound Lead Solutions for strategy and planning docs, spreadsheets and many other apps in the suite of tools. It is free to low cost application that has a friendly mobile interface and integrates with almost anything through direct platform APIs, Zapier or If This Then That.
Trello: Trello is your workhorse and organizational center that can elevate Google Docs to the next level of full project management and workflow solution. It has very visual, list-based cards that let you design any process needed around executing almost anything.
Other tech tools that can handle some of these items are project management tools like Teamwork, Asana, and bolt-ons to marketing automation tools like Hubspot or Acton, and your CRM platforms like Salesforce or Zoho. If you have a more robust social publishing tool, which we will cover a bit later, some of those have some of this functionality as well.
Slack: We love Slack for messaging and keeping threads for specific clients and projects. Slack integrates both with Trello and Google Docs, plus a multitude of other solutions and has helped us cut down drastically on email plus it saves time by keeping us more organized.
Many platforms offer a messaging feature but here is where you have to think about what your needs are. Organized, searchable and intuitive interfaces are what helps to make a messaging platform great, primarily if they include more than a couple of people. Just think about how frustrating group chats on Facebook and Google can be, and you quickly see the need for an elevated solution.
Overall, what you need to remember is how people work together, who needs access to the information and if you need to keep a record and continue accessing the data.
How to Select a Social Publishing and Monitoring Tool
The tool you choose is often a key ingredient when it comes to hitting your social media and content marketing goals because it can help you drive traffic and engagement, as well as measure how you’re doing.
Each tool has its strengths, and there’s no single perfect tool for every team. So how do you figure out which one is going to be the best fit for your company? Reminder, revisit the strategies and goals you previously developed. From there you’ll have a robust set of criteria to measure your options against once you begin researching, evaluating alternatives, and comparing features.
Start by outlining your preferred features. Then prioritize them into must-have and nice-to-have features. The must-have features are the most important. Meaning, if the tool doesn’t allow your team to do X, then you won’t be able to execute on your social media marketing strategy and hit your goals.
These must-have features are unique to your company, brand, and team. Different kinds of businesses will have vastly different must-have needs. A few things to consider before you get the features list. Ask yourself the following questions:
1. Are you a service provider, e-commerce company, mobile or brick and mortar business?
2. Are you owned by a larger parent company, or family of companies?
3. Are you located in other countries?
4. How many locations do you have?
5. Are you a franchise? If yes, are you a corporate franchisor or a local franchisee?
Each one of those questions brings up a specific list of sub-items for each of the must-have items that you might list. For example, if you’re a franchisor, the level of brand control, and specific functionality will be vastly different in how you manage a tool that needs to work both at the corporate level and the franchisee level. The same would go for a large parent company looking to leverage data and sales cycles across various companies or business units.
If you’re a small non-profit, a single location restaurant or a service provider, you need far less functionality, but you need a lot more bang for your buck as you can only manage so many tools and subscriptions.
IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS TO HELP YOU DEVELOP YOUR LIST:
● What are all the tasks you do on a day-to-day basis?
● What activities do you do every few weeks or months?
● What sorts of capabilities do you need to have?
IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS TO HELP YOU BRAINSTORM:
● What caused you to start searching for a new tool? – Like I mentioned previously, there was likely something you wanted to do but weren’t able to. What was that?
● Social networks – Which social networks do you need to be able to share too?
● Scheduling posts – Do you need to be able to schedule your posts in advance?
● Custom posting times – How should scheduling work? Do you need to choose your custom posting times?
● Scheduling tool vs. “all-in-one” platform – Are you looking for an awesome scheduling tool, or are you looking for an “all-in-one” social media management platform?
● Analytics – Do you need analytics? Which metrics do you need to track? How in-depth do your reports need to be?
● Paid social campaigns – Do you need the ability to manage paid social campaigns? (FB ads, Twitter ads, etc.)
● Engagement – Do you need to be able to pull in, interact with, and respond to incoming social conversations?
● Social listening – Do you need social listening/brand monitoring capabilities?
● Team collaboration tools – Will you need to be able to add team members, review posts, and manage your team’s workflow?
● UTMs – Do you need the ability to set UTM parameters on a per channel basis? Or a per post basis?
● Integrations – Are there any other tools you’d need to integrate with?
CREATE YOUR SHORT LIST OF TOOLS TO EVALUATE
As you evaluate the tools you come across in your research, you can exclude any products that don’t offer the “must-have” features you discovered earlier.
And as you compare products, begin to narrow down to your top 3-5 options and rank them. This is going to be your shortlist of tools to try out next.
Keep in mind: The features on your “nice-to-have” list shouldn’t get attention until you’ve found an option that satisfies all your “must-haves.”
A social media tool that offers only the features you need is likely going to be much more efficient than any option that doesn’t have the essentials but does provide you with a bunch of “nice-to-have” features.
Six of my personal favorite social media tools
● Buffer – Great for scheduling, publishing and analyzing your content with ease
● Hootsuite – Fantastic as an “all-in-one” social media solution
● Sprout Social – Rocks for monitoring all your social media efforts, both content and engagement
● Edgar – Excels at recycling your best content automatically
● Agora Pulse – Really delivers some unique features for all stages of the sales funnel
● Rallio – Built for Franchisors and Franchisees with multi-locations businesses. This tool is a great price point for a ton of amazing features exclusive to the needs of this type of business model.
Save time and access our spreadsheet of social tool benefits and features.
This post was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse.
Nicole Hudson is an engaging thought leader in marketing strategy development, branding, demand generation, content marketing, social media, marketing technology and lead generation. Her firm, Inbound Lead Solutions, focuses on sales and marketing alignment with B2B companies, franchising, professional services, keynote speakers, authors, and consultants. Hudson’s marketing strategies have been recognized by Franchise Media Group in two consecutive years with Star Awards for social media lead generation, and by a Dbusiness Magazine award in 2016 for Marketing Consulting. Her work has been featured in a LinkedIn case study on Franchising Search Engine Optimization and Lead Generation. She published a book collaboration with Bulldog Reporter (Infocom), The Advanced LinkedIn PR Handbook. Hudson has developed social media strategies for two national television appearances, Be the Boss and Undercover Boss. Nicole is a member of the International Franchise Association and sits on its Marketing & Technology Committee; is a board member and marketing chair for Community Home Supports, a Detroit non-profit; and is a regular speaker, content contributor, and trainer on digital marketing topics.