There are more than 4.48 billion social media users around the world as of July 2021, of which 520 million were added in the past 12 months, according to DataReportal. About 26.1 percent of the users say they use various social media platforms to look for new products to purchase. It’s no surprise then that social media management has become an important marketing strategy for small businesses, more so if they use ecommerce. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest are now an easy and cost-effective way for small and medium businesses (SMBs) to create brand awareness, increase their customer base, and generate more business with existing customers.
“Social media offers an easy and low-commitment way for potential customers to find you and express interest in your products. Paid social media is a low-cost way to get your business in front of your ideal customer base. You can target your customers based on their interests, behaviors, and other factors that will allow you to put your product in the face of people most likely to buy,” says Trent Walker, Pay-per-click (PPC) Specialist, Vendasta.
New trends in social media ecommerce
While ecommerce tools and technologies make it incredibly easy for SMBs to sell their products online through their website, recent modifications on Facebook and Instagram platforms have made it even easier to sell directly on these platforms. Customers don’t need to leave the social media app to make a purchase. More and more small businesses can now leverage this opportunity to connect with the audience, and make it as easy for possible customers to directly buy from their social media platforms.
As the social media landscape evolves, it is also important for businesses to keep on top of the latest trends.
For instance, Walker sees dynamic creatives and machine learning testing becoming smarter and smarter. “Dynamic creative takes multiple ad components and combines them in real-time based on Facebook’s data. This will allow small businesses to achieve greater results with less work,” he says.
Video ads have finally taken a center stage across paid social media. The dramatic rise of TikTok and Instagram Reels have pushed the uptake of short interactive videos. Video ads and even live streaming are where advertisers are going to win in 2021 and beyond.
With more and more privacy protection measures being put in place, retargeting your website users on social media has become almost impossible. A once very successful advertising strategy has become almost useless so now small businesses are going to have to get crafty. In this background, Walker sees the use of first-party data such as email newsletter lists in social media advertising becoming more important. “Small businesses need to leverage their first-party data collected on their website to tell Facebook what a good customer looks like so that Facebook can find more of those customers,” he says.
Top social media management tools
If you are an active social media user, you know managing even one platform and growing it can be time-consuming. And it can become incredibly complex when you are using multiple platforms to promote your business. From creating copy and creatives, to publishing to analytics, it can get quite overwhelming for small businesses who often function with lean teams.
This is where social media management tools come in. These tools help users in not only administering multiple social media accounts, but also scheduling and boosting posts, or identifying ideal customer profiles. Marketing and communication departments across organizations increasingly rely on social media management tools for managing daily workflows to promote their brands and engage with the audience. Some of the software even provides tools and libraries to create content. Social media management comes with social media monitoring too. So, the tools also help in maximizing your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) on social platforms, leading to greater visibility and customer engagement. And of course, there are analytics.
However, with so many social media management tools on the market, what would be the ideal one for your business? Here is a list of top social media management tools for small ecommerce businesses. (Pricing where available is as per current updates)
The global leader in social-media management, Hootsuite powers social media for brands and organizations around the world. It has more than 200,000 paid accounts and millions of users. Hootsuite says it believes in helping organizations build enduring customer relationships at scale. Hootsuite integrates with tools already widely used, such as Salesforce, Marketo, Proofpoint, and Adobe, which helps brands to unify social networks across the organization.
- Professional: $49/month
- Team: $129/month
- Business: $599/month
- Enterprise: Custom solutions
HubSpot Marketing Hub
With HubSpot’s Marketing Hub, all marketing tools and data are on one easy-to-use, powerful platform. Marketers can keep data at the center of everything they do because Marketing Hub is built as part of the HubSpot CRM platform. When using the full CRM platform, marketers can achieve alignment with sales to prove ROI and validate investments. Popular features include blog, SEO, ad tracking and management, social media management, video, and live chat.
- Free version
- Starter: $50/month
- Professional: $890/month
- Enterprise: $3,200/month
Zoho Social includes a powerful set of features, such as Publishing Calendar, Bulk Scheduler, and Repeat Post. Its monitoring capabilities track social conversations for responding to where needed. There are features like advanced reporting which creates graphs and custom reports to measure performance. The first tool to track revenue from social media marketing efforts, Zoho Social’s integration with the Zoho CRM helps businesses engage with prospects and generate leads from social media. Agencies can bring all their clients on to Zoho Social, and manage their social media presence.
- Standard: $10/month
- Professional: $30/month
- Premium: $40/month
- Agency: $230/month
- Agency Plus: $330/month
Sprout Social’s powerful, all-in-one social media management platform unlocks the potential of social to uncover trends and actionable insights to inform brands. The tool helps businesses connect with audiences, streamline publishing workflows, collaborate in real time, and turn social data into meaningful insights.
- Standard: $99/month
- Professional: $149/month
- Advanced: $249/month
Facebook Pages Manager
Facebook’s Pages Manager is an application that lets administrators check on their online page activity, view insights, and respond to audiences from a mobile device. When you message with people, you can personalize the conversation by reviewing past interactions the person has had with your online page, as well as view information they share publicly on their profile, like their current city. Notifications let you see how people interact with your page, like comments left on your page posts. You can control who sees your page and posts, as well as view and edit your list of administrators – the people who can make changes to your page. You can use the About section to share key information about your business such as your address, phone number, website, and more.
- Not available
Buffer is a social-media tool for small businesses that makes it easy to queue up thumb-stopping content across social channels, and use upto-date Instagram tools. Buffer lets you measure performance, create reports, and get insights that help to grow reach, engagement, and sales.
- Free version
- Pro: $15/month
- Premium: $65/month
- Business: $99/month
- Analytics comes for extra and costs: Pro: $35/month and $50/ month for Premium
Semrush includes more than 50 products, tools and add-ons for online visibility management, including tools for search, content, social media and market research, data for more than 140 countries, seamless integration with Google and task management platforms. With more than 40 advanced tools and features to boost your marketing, you can schedule posts within seconds and track their performance; create, launch, manage and optimize Facebook family ads on placements with the Social Media Ads tool, or see low-performing ads and get recommendations on how to improve them.
- Pro: $119/month
- Guru: $229/month
- Business: $449/mont
Sendible’s platform integrates social networks into a centralized hub making it easy to manage a social strategy for multiple brands. Sendible tools include powerful social-media engagement, monitoring, publishing, lead generation and reporting features. Automation features help to simplify the process of driving interactions, growing a following, and starting conversations on social media.
- Creator: $29/month
- Traction: $89/month
- Scale: $199/month
- Expansion: $399/month
Vendasta’s white label Social Marketing tools are designed to save time and plan, schedule, and publish posts on multiple networks from one easy-to-use platform. With ready-to-post content, post scheduling, and in-depth analytics, you can start sharing engaging content and build a loyal audience. You can easily pull in favourite and new RSS feeds to discover great content for social-media posts or measure the metrics that you care about with rich engagement statistics. The tool also enables efficient monitoring and tracking of links in your posts – to see how many link visits originate from different social networks or from Dark Social. The Multi-location Business App allows publishing on multiple Facebook pages.
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For years, linking social media engagement to customer identity has proved an elusive goal for marketers. But with renewed momentum and executive attention on social media’s ability to retain critical connections with customers, now is the time to take steps – big or small – to bridge the critical gap between engagement and customer identity, says Hootsuite in a new report, 2021 Social Trends Will Light the Way.
However, like with all technologies, Walker warns there are some must do’s and don’ts for social media use too.
- Do: Test, test, test your advertising creatives. The creative is the most important part of the advertisement. You want to create 7+ different creatives initially so you can find out what resonates best with your audience.
- Don’t: Make decisions based on a small sample size. Your campaigns need time and data in order to deliver consistent results. Just because something isn’t working day 1 doesn’t mean you should shut it off. Let your campaigns run for a minimum of 1 week before you start to make any decisions.
The pandemic has brought technology to the forefront like never before. Social media will play a prominent role in this new game. Businesses that stayed away, now must make the move.