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Our Ask the Expert Explains the Social Media Tools That Provide the Greatest Return If you don't have a lot of resources, you should focus on these tools to grow your audience and brand.

By Aaron Agius Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Q: Which one social media tool has generated the greatest return for you? And how did you use it?

A: I'm going to cheat a little bit here, because the tool that's driven the great results for me on social media and other channels is a proprietary tool my team at Louder built for a process we call growth mapping. Growth mapping is essentially growth hacking 2.0 -- it's what you do when you're ready to move beyond growth hacking and adopt more sustainable, data-driven growth strategies.

In practice, the tool lets us look at all of the different facets of our online performance (and the performance of our clients' sites) to figure out where weaknesses exist and where we need to be investing. If your social-media returns are weak relative to your SEO, content strategy, what have you, the tool will tell us to prioritize our time and resource investments there over other channels.

Related: Every social media marketing strategy to grow your business.

Since the tool is only available to our team, though, I've got a few other suggestions for you:

Paid social media advertising

If you're looking at social media from a strict ROI perspective, you need to be doing paid ads. Generating the greatest returns, therefore, comes down to running your ads as effectively as possible - and there are plenty of tools out there that'll help you do it.

Qwaya and AdEspresso both have good tools for Facebook Ads in particular. Qwaya will run you about $150 a month, so it's a better choice for more experienced marketers. Once it's set up, check out its automated split testing features that let you experiment with creatives and audiences to find the best-performing combinations.

Related Book: Ultimate Guide to Facebook Advertising by Perry Marshall, Keith Krance, and Thomas Meloche

AdEspresso's Facebook Ads Compass is free, so it's a better choice for marketers and companies that are new to paid social. It's not going to give you all the split testing features of Qwaya, but it will benchmark your company against others in your industry, so you can see where you're falling short.

Social engagement tools

If paid social ads aren't your thing, you'll get the best returns on your time if you focus on two things: contests and user-generated content promotions.

There have been thousands of articles written about social-media contests, but I'll leave you with this one from Convince and Convert as a good general starting point. There are tons of different tools to help you execute your events as well, and since everyone's contest objectives are a bit different, please review this list from Practical eCommerce to help you sort out the best tool for what you're trying to do. KingSumo deserves a mention too - you really can't go wrong with Noah Kagan's stuff.

To do user generated content, you don't necessarily even need a tool - just ask people to create content around your hashtag and filter what you get out to all your other promotional channels. If you want something more coordinated, a tool like ReadyPulse can help you maximize the returns on your campaign.

Otherwise, for general social scheduling, my favorite tool is Buffer; specifically BulkBuffer.com. The Excel import feature makes it easy for me to schedule updates for multiple social profiles and to ensure I'm sending a steady stream of content to every profile and social group I'm part of.

Related: How to Make Time for Social Media Marketing

Honestly, recommending tools is always tricky. The right choice for one company might be totally wrong for another company, so a lot of it comes down to what'll best help your unique campaigns. Hope the suggestions above give you a good place to start.

Aaron Agius

Search, Content and Social Marketer

Aaron Agius is an experienced search, content and social marketer. He has worked with IBM, Ford, LG, Unilever and many more of the world's largest and most recognized brands, to grow their revenue. See more from Agius at Louder Online.

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