SAN FRANCISCO -- For busy business owners, managing your brand on a growing list of social networks can be time consuming, if not stressful and frustrating. The good news is that there are a small army of tools and apps that can help simplify the process.
"Social media. Productivity. Efficiency. These words don't always go together, but they should," said Lisa Buyer, president and CEO of online public relations, social media and SEO agency The Buyer Group, based in Hollywood, Fla. Buyer spoke yesterday at the Search Engine Strategies conference in San Francisco about tools and strategies for optimizing your social media efforts without spending a ton of money doing it.
Here's a look at five of the low-cost tools Buyer suggested online marketers add to their social media arsenal:
Tracky is a free app that combines separate tools such as email, to-do lists, chat, file sharing and more all on one social, task-management platform. Access to individual projects can be limited to specific users by changing settings from public to private, and users can share information within the app via their Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest accounts.
"I also really like Tracky because it lets you involve people who might be outside of your organization [in the collaboration process], so you can look for new ideas and resources," Buyer said.
Instead of having to collect analytics across every social network your brand is on, BlitzMetrics allows users to track and analyze all those stats in one convenient dashboard. "For $1 a day … it eliminates the need to create multiple reports for everyone at your company who needs to know how your social media is performing," Buyer said.
3. Pitch Engine
Entrepreneurs want to get the word out about their companies and the special events or promotions they're putting on, but they don't always have the time to create a social media strategy or call individual news outlets and make the pitch. Instead, Pitch Engine allows you to create a 1-page website to tell your story visually with videos and engaging images for free. You can share the page via email or social media, or integrate it into your own website. A basic plan, which comes with features like search optimization, costs $19 per month.
Recently acquired by Google, Wildfire is an app that allows you to easily create contests and sweepstakes on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. It also offers comprehensive dashboards and reports for your social marketing pages, tabs and campaigns.Basic plans start at $5 for one promotion with unlimited participants, plus $1 for each day the promotion runs.
Besides marketing your own brand, one important function of social media is to share timely, important and engaging content with your customers and followers. One easy way to do that is by using an app called Buffer, Buyer said. It allows you to collect interesting articles, videos and pictures from around the web and automatically schedule them to post on your social networks throughout the day. Pricing starts at $10 per month.