The regular readers of this blog (that’s you, Dave!) will know that I was going to write a full blog post for each of the ‘5 advanced features of Social Media Management tools’ in a series of 5 parts. After the first (on advanced post scheduling and optimisation), I’ve decided that this may work better as a single blog post. Perhaps with individual posts to follow later. Always plan your content, kids!
So with that disclaimer out of the way, here’s a run-down of 5 advanced features of Social Media Management (SMM) tools that separate them from the pack, as well as a few ideas on what solution providers offer those features.
- Deeper Multiple Profile Management
- Push Notifications
- Post Scheduling and Optimisation
- Reports – Visual and CSV
- Keyword monitoring and reporting
Feature 1: (Deeper) Multiple Profile Management
Many SMM tools base their core offering around Twitter with Facebook Pages bolted on. Obviously there are many more social media profiles out there, as well as types of account for each profile. Rather than just a Facebook Page, you may also wish to manage and post updates to a personal Facebook Profile or even to a Facebook Group. The same applies to other social profiles.
For example, Sprout Social currently provides support for a LinkedIn personal profile, a Facebook personal profile and a Facebook Page, but not a Facebook Group or a LinkedIn company page (however, I’m told that LinkedIn company pages are coming). Hootsuite, ManageFlitter, and Buffer allow you to connect to LinkedIn profiles, groups, and company pages as well as Facebook profiles, groups, and pages. All except ManageFlitter allow you to connect to a Google+ Page, but not a personal profile.
Feature 2: Push Notifications
Typically a ‘push’ notification is one which occurs outside of the tool’s own software – i.e. you receive a notification even when you don’t have the tool open right in front of you.
For me, as someone who monitors a large number of profiles for various ‘individual’ businesses without necessarily a high number of interactions and yet needs to respond as quickly as possible, I’m all about the push notification – pop-up messages and sound effects on your screen (similar to Outlook email notifications), push notifications through an app on your smart phone, and even notifications by email (which you can then set your own alert rules for). Sadly there isn’t really one app that does it all. Instead you need to rely on a combination of the social networks’ own apps along with third party apps.
A number of Twitter apps can take care of push notifications for various Twitter activity (including the official Twitter app itself – which is capable of supporting multiple accounts) but I’ve found that nothing beats the official Facebook Pages app for Facebook Page notifications, and there are also few options for LinkedIn company pages and Google+ Pages/YouTube Channels. In fact, while Sprout Social does a great job of displaying all notifications from all profiles in one single feed, the tool offers no push notifications at all (although, again, I’m told this is coming). Likewise, Twitter’s own TweetDeck is unbeatable for desktop notifications for Twitter interactions or uses of a particular keyword in a given region (but sadly their smart phone app is no longer supported).
A service called Conversocial is brilliant at sending notifications by email. These can also be upgraded to ‘urgent’ notifications depending on keywords inside the user’s post (e.g. “please” or “price” or “hate”, etc.). Conversocial used to offer this service for free but, as of very recently, this is now a paid option only.
Feature 3: Post Scheduling and Optimisation
As mentioned in a previous post, this feature is not just about scheduling a number of posts in advance, it’s also about letting the tool choose exactly when to post your update to get the best possible exposure. Depending on the tool’s algorithm, this can include:
- When most people in your network are active (posting) on Twitter
- When people have interacted most on your posts in the past
Following on from the services mentioned in the previous post, I’ve also found that ManageFlitter offers this service for Twitter, Facebook (profile and pages) and LinkedIn (profiles, groups, and companies) under the name ‘PowerPost’. This is based on when people in a chosen region or when specifically the people that you follow are on Twitter.
I’m just not sure about the time settings here though … apparently most New Zealanders are on Twitter at 1am on Wednesday morning. I’ve asked their support team whether this is a time zone issue (there’s no way to change the time zone in my account) and will update here with the result.
Feature 4: Reports – Visual and CSV
For every person managing a business social media profile, there are at least 5 managers nervously waiting to see the results (give or take). No matter what your measurement of success (be it an increase in community size, number of positive interactions, clicks through to a website, product enquiries, etc.) you’re not doing social media right unless you’re measuring something.
Reports can be pretty time consuming and justifying ROI in social media can be a grey area. Often because targets are set by those who have no knowledge of the media, or by sales-focused manages only interested in immediate revenue.
To help, good SMM tools provide the ability to correlate key metrics from each social profile into a single easy-to-read report. These are usually offered as a .csv file for export or the stats are displayed via various graphs, along with an ‘export as PDF’ option.
Hootsuite and Sprout Social both provide an option to integrate with Google Analytics so that you can measure changes in website traffic based on links from your social profiles. Hootsuite’s option can get fairly complicated, with lots of graph options, all eating away at your paid credits (with some graphs ‘costing’ more than others).
Sprout Social offer one group of collection of graphs as part of your account (with the ability to only view stats from a grouped set of profiles – ideal for people managing social media profiles for multiple businesses).
Feature 5: Keyword Monitoring and Reporting
This can be a great way to measure the reach of your brand, while also monitoring any possible issues or complaints regarding your brand. By monitoring these posts, you have the opportunity to measure customer sentiment and also to respond (carefully) under your brand profile to offer assistance or a resolution (or, if the user is a customer, you could – carefully – ask your customer relations team to get in touch to ensure everything if running smoothly and the customer is happy).
As a free service, TweetDeck is really good at maximising Twitter’s advanced search function. Gathering Tweets mentioning a particular keyword – with settings for location settings and excluding other keywords – into one stream with the option of adding an on-screen notification for each mention.
Twitter-centric services like Hootsuite and Sprout Social also leverage this monitoring service and can extend it to public mentions on Facebook.
How do I really get a feel for these features?
It can be tricky to really see how these features can benefit your business’ social media presence. The absolute best way is to trial each service. Many of these services offer either a free ’30 day trial’ or a personal demonstration from an account manager.
Take your time testing each service and really explore the features to determine exactly what your business can be utilise, and what features are just ‘nice to have’ extras.