Did you know that 97% of companies use social media marketing? Social media plays such a major role in the daily lives of marketers, that it’s easy to forget just how young the channel really is.
The truth is that even the most well-known management tools are relatively new; Hootsuite was released in 2008 and Buffer was launched in 2010. This has resulted in constantly evolving features and functionality, which can make it difficult for marketers to determine which solution is right for their needs.
In fact, 85% of marketers feel they don’t know which social media management tool is best. However, make no mistake about it – every company needs to invest in a social media management tool. With social media marketing budgets expected to double in the next five years, marketers need a platform they can rely on and scale with in order to continue reaching their audience online.
To help you evaluate the right solution, here are the 11 must-have features to look for social media tools:
1. Campaign Segmentation
Chances are that you have dozens of social media posts going out daily, across multiple channels. These posts are likely promoting a range of collateral, such as blogs, webinars, event landing pages and more. How do segment all of these items to easily know which assets resonate most with your followers?
Using a social media management tool that allows you to segment social posts into separate campaigns – based on topics, goals, demographics, or product lines, is the easiest way to keep track of posts and performance For example, HubSpot’s built-in social media tool lets you assign each social post (as well as blogs, keywords and more) to each campaign that you create.
2. Easy-to-View Calendar
If there’s one thing you want to avoid, it’s over-posting to your social channels. Not only will this lead to less engagement, it can also cause people to un-follow you. The easiest way to avoid this is to use a social media marketing calendar with filters for each campaign, network, and profile.
Once you know what your target frequency is, you can easily check your calendar on a daily basis, filter by network or profile, and ensure that you’re not overstepping the quota. In addition, make sure your tool has a drag-and-drop function – HubSpot has this, so that if too many (or few) posts appear on a certain day, you can simply move them in one click to a different day and balance it out.
3. High-Level and Granular Analytics
Once you have your posting schedule under control, the next step is to measure the performance of your social posts. Three-quarters (76%) of marketers say they need to be more data-focused to succeed, and doing so requires more than just knowing click-through rates.
First, know which social metrics are crucial to your company. If you’re B2B, you’ll need a tool that focuses on clicks and lead generation. However, if you’re B2C, you may be more interested in engagement rates and KPIs such as likes, shares, retweets and comments.
4. Posting Across Multiple Profiles
What good is a social media marketing tool if it doesn’t save you time? One key feature to help you achieve this is the ability to post the same message multiple times, to multiple profiles. This doesn’t mean you should be posting the same message across all of your networks.
According to best practices, each message you craft should be specifically aligned with the nature of the social channel you’re post to. For example, while Facebook audiences prefer less formal and shorter posts, Linked in readers prefer more formal and in-depth information.
Given that the half-life of a tweet is 24 minutes (versus 90 minutes for a Facebook post), reposting is vital to reaching more of your audience – especially if they’re in different time zones. Apart from posting the same message to a company page and personal profiles, at the end of the month, identify the top 20 performing social posts for each channel, and re-schedule them for the next few weeks.
Edgar is a social media management tool specifically designed to collect your past content and create a library of posts available for reuse.
5. Social Listening
Insight into the performance of your own posts isn’t the only thing marketers need to track on social media. The ability to monitor comments and mentions across all networks is important for companies looking to respond to their customers and identify potential prospects. Tracking mentions, following keywords, and monitoring competitors should be an integral part of whichever tool you choose.
Even though 90% of enterprises use social media for customer service, 58% of customers who have tweeted about a bad experience never receive a response. Sprout Social offers strong features for social listening and social customer service. If this is a top priority for your social strategy, you should select a solution that goes beyond publishing and measuring.
6. Preferred Social Networks
This one is obvious, but make sure your management platforms supports all of the social networks you plan to publish on. While almost all support Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, if you utilize Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn Groups, YouTube, SlideShare or any other networks, double check their inclusion.
Hootsuite has the best coverage of social networks, and even lets you set up separate streams to monitor your LinkedIn Groups and some of the less popular networks are through third-party apps.
Not only should your social media tool support the networks you use most, it should also integrate with the other tools you are already using on a daily basis. Being able to seamlessly connect to marketing automation, analytics and CRM platforms will enhance the success of all of the tools by offering seamless analytics, sales insights and collaboration.
As an all-in-one marketing platform, HubSpot boasts the greatest integration between social, CMS, CRM and other tools. However, if you’re already using a different content management system it may be easier to look for a solution that integrates with that specific one.
With 78% of companies now saying they have dedicated social media teams, you need a platform that makes it easy for team members to collaborate on the management of campaigns. A solution that offers team-work features, the ability to assign tasks to others and assign different permissions will help keep your team on the same page.
9. Draft Mode
One specific feature that facilitates higher collaboration and speeds up the approval process is the ability to first create draft posts. This is particularly helpful for teams and marketing agencies, since it offers the ability to review the post first, before scheduling it to go out.
Based on the number of social media fails out there, it goes without saying that every post should be proofread, edited and approved before final publication.
10. Optimization Insights
While it’s great to see numbers on individual posts and how they perform, your social media tool should also be able to offer advanced insights that help shape your overall strategy. Reports that show you the best best days of the week and times of day to post, and even popular hashtags, are extremely helpful.
Twitter-dedicated tools like Followerwonk and SocialBro can give you greater insights into your followers to learn when the best time to engage them might be. However, these platforms are highly specialized solution that don’t offer the full management package.
11. Intelligence Content Curation
There are 27 million pieces of content shared each day. Sorting through all of that noise to curate content your audience might be interested in requires a tool that can recommend articles from the web to share with audiences based on the previous content that you’ve shared.
Look for a social media marketing tool that learns exactly which kind of content you should be sharing, and scours multiple publications and online sources to find it. This will help you cut down the time it takes your team to find and post relevant and engaging updates.
These 11 features are by no means comprehensive – they are the ones I’ve found most important for our clients. Use this as a guide to create your own list of the most important features and start your search by evaluating each tool on how it handles your top priorities.
What features do you look for in a social media management tool?