Casting a Wide Net: Successful Social on a Budget

Allison Howen
by Allison Howen 17 Nov, 2011

Social media marketers are like fishermen: posts are cast out like fishing rods, in hopes that the right bait was chosen to capture the attention of an audience in the deep blue sea of the social Web.

And while social media is a valuable marketing option, it can also be very time consuming. Furthermore, as every successful business person knows - time equals money. Therefore, when it comes to social media, it is important to make sure that one is using the right platforms, as well as has the right tools in their tackle box in order to monitor and manage the best and most affordable marketing campaign possible.

The Platforms

Social platforms come with different audiences and layouts. Since there are many social media platforms on the Web right now - with inevitably more to come - a marketer needs to choose which networks will be their brand's focus. While marketers might catch the most fish with Facebook and Twitter, which are like the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans of social media, other platforms such as LinkedIn and YouTube are viable options as well.

It is important for a marketer to realize that quality is more important than quantity when it comes to social networks, after all, a fisherman can't catch fish in a lake that he rarely visits. Choosing the right platform should be based on a brand's social goals and expectations. For example, a brand that is focusing on location-based offers would want to consider using Foursquare, while a brand that's focused on informing readers may want to choose a platform like Tumblr.

Nevertheless, a brand should choose the social networks that will relate best to its goals. The networks should compliment the content that will be posted, and above all else the platforms should stay interactive and social.

Saving Time, Saving Money

After choosing which platforms will be the focus, marketers will realize that interacting, engaging and creating content can be very time consuming - just like fishing. However, unlike fishing, marketers can use tools to help them manage social media more efficiently, and therefore cost effectively. 

Solutions such as Tweetdeck and HootSuite are both options to consider when looking for a dashboard to manage social networks. Both of these solutions are free, and provide marketers with the capability to post updates, reply to fans and even schedule posts in advance - all in one location.

Twitter's Tweetdeck dashboard allows users to update their Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and Foursquare channels in one spot. Furthermore, the dashboard allows users to filter their Twitter feeds, clear seen updates, and monitor trending topics, as well as create groups for Facebook friends, share photos and links. The dashboard is also customizable, so users can view the information they want to see without having to sort through a ton of tabs or windows. Conveniently, this solution can be downloaded to the desktop, Android and iPhone or Chrome browser, which means that users can manage their accounts from virtually anywhere with an Internet connection.

Outside the Twitterverse is another social managing dashboard called HootSuite. This dashboard allows users to manage Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare, YouTube, Google Plus and more. Additionally, users can view analytics with this solution, which is helpful when monitoring, at least as well as one currently can, the ROI on social.

Analyzing Success

Just like reeling in the big catch, analyzing social success metrics can be difficult. First, one has to define what makes a social campaign successful: is it conversions, a large following or engaged fans? It probably should be all three, as well as some other metrics like check-ins and fan growth rate. But aside from the weekly Facebook report that business Pages' receive, marketers can get a more detailed look at analytics through a few free solutions.

Facebook users can use the business analytics tool All Facebook Stats, which provides users with a deeper analysis of their fans, distribution, engagement and content. This free tool offers graphs and numbers that will display easy to understand analytics so that marketers can determine which social areas have been successful, as well as which areas can be improved upon.

The social media marketing tool Wildfire, is another solution that is valuable for monitoring Facebook and Twitter success, especially for those with a competitive streak. This solution allows users to compare the likes, followers and check-ins of specific Facebook Pages and Twitter handles. It can be a very useful tool for businesses that wants to compare their own social success with that of a competitor.

Lastly, Crowdbooster is another tool that marketers can take advantage of to help them monitor the impressions, follower growth, retweets and influential followers of a specific brand on Facebook and Twitter. The solution even recommends audience members to engage with, as well as the best times of day to post for the most social success. Users can also post from the solution, which provides graphs and analytics that can help marketers decide their brands social strengths and weaknesses.

Gone Fishin'

It's time to take that "Gone Fishin'" sign off the door, because with these free tools, social media can not only be a lucrative marketing option, but if the only investment made in it is a little bit of time, the ROI will be on an upward trend as soon as the first post hits the social sea.