You don’t really need any special software to send a tweet. All you really need is your browser, Internet connection, and an account at Twitter.com. But if you want to move past simply tweeting real-time into truly managing your social media by measuring reach, seeing the demographics of your followers, scheduling tweets, and tracking your Twitter account stats, consider using a social media management (SMM) tool like Sprout Social. As a social media practitioner, I could get by with using Twitter.com for all of my tweets. But about a year ago I signed up for a free trial with Sprout Social and I’ve been a convert ever since. Why would you pay extra money to send out tweets to your followers when you can do it for free on Twitter? Because if you want to engage people and really see the impact your tweets have, you need more than Twitter.com.
I use the pro version of Sprout Social. It’s their most economical level and it’s only $9 a month. That’s perfectly reasonable for a small business owner. And if you use it right, you’ll get much more value than the $9 you spend. First, you aren’t limited to just Twitter. On this plan, you can manage up to 10 social media profiles. This includes your Facebook business pages, Facebook profile, Twitter profiles, and LinkedIn profile.
When you have a schedule to keep, using an SMM tool can help you stay focused and use your time wisely. Instead of scrolling through pages and pages of Twitter and Facebook, you can go directly to the people who are interacting with you already and respond to them using the Smart Inbox. It contains a combined list of Twitter and Facebook interactions, plus keyword mentions about your brand on both platforms. From the dashboard, you can view your Twitter feeds and lists, and keep track of conversations. On top of that, you can even peruse your Google Reader RSS feeds—making it easy to share great content with others. And unlike Twitter.com, you can schedule tweets for when your followers are most likely to see them—and then track and respond to any messages. While you’re at it, you can schedule your Facebook and LinkedIn updates, too.
Social Media Analytics
Sprout Social’s reporting tool provides a single dashboard for Twitter, Facebook, bit.ly and Google Analytics data (available on select plans). At a glance, you can see how many new followers you had over a given time period. You can measure mentions, how many tweets you sent out, and how many people retweeted you. View your Facebook and Twitter follower demographics to get a better idea of who you’re engaging with regularly. Want to compare yourself to a competitor? You can do that, too! The reports can be exported into a PDF or CSV, which is helpful if you need to do even more with the data, like calculating ROI. Sure, you can find the same data in Facebook Insights and Google Analytics. But having it all in one formatted report makes life a little bit easier. More importantly, Twitter.com has little to offer by way of analytics. Social media practitioners use SMM tools like Sprout to benchmark follower growth, engagement, and clicks on links.
More Than Twitter
If all of that’s not enough, there’s even more you can do when you add in Facebook pages, like seeing how many follows and unfollows you’ve had, how people are sharing your content, and even a breakdown of how individual posts perform. So even if you only have one Twitter account, a LinkedIn profile, one Facebook business or fan page, and your personal Facebook account, you can save time by managing your responses and interactions via Sprout Social. Add in the smart phone app and you’ve got an all-around great tool. At first, I wasn’t sure about the added expense. I’ve been managing my own social accounts since Twitter was in its infancy and Facebook was still college-only, after all. But once I tried it, I found how much easier it was to have a single dashboard where I can track several accounts at once. And for any business owner, an affordable time saver can be a really big deal. If you’ve been looking for an SMM tool, check out Sprout Social for a free 30-day trial (they don’t even ask for a credit card) and see for yourself.
Spread the Love T-Shirt Giveaway
Leave a comment on this blog post telling us why you love social media marketing. You will be entered for a chance to win a Sprout Social t-shirt. Two winners will be selected randomly on Monday July 16, 2012. All comments must be in by 6am PST.
[UPDATE JULY 17, 2012] Congrats to our t-shirt winners! Thanks for sharing the love:
Stacey @SDBargainMama said: “Social media marketing is a great way of generating leads and building relationships, and increasing a company’s trustworthiness and visibility is key.”
Angela @SDMomsNightOut told us: “I love social media because of how easy and exciting it is to engage with brands and other people! Social Media really helps build a sense of community. Sprout Social is a great tool!”
The giveaway is over but we still want to hear from you so keep the comments coming about why you love social media for marketing.
Meet Guest Blogger: Becky Scott
Becky is a freelance social media manager with over twelve years of experience in online community management, creating and curating content, business analysis, project management, marketing and social media. Follow her @lolagoetz.
Note: The author is not affiliated with Sprout Social, just a fan of the brand.