People just beginning on social networks frequently come to me with a big question… ”How can I be more efficient with social media?” These words usually come after experiencing overwhelm - Especially for small business owners who are already wearing multiple hats in their roles.

Idea Girl Media partners with Michelle Ton of Teradata on practical social media tools for small business owners to keep in their social media tool belt.

As a small business owner myself, I understand this question.  There are indeed several social networks and many available social media tools!

So it was a pleasure to be asked by New Media Dayton to team up with Michelle Ton of Teradata to present on Social Media Tools.  The NMD group is mainly small business owners and self-employed consultants already engaged in social media on a basic level.

Their main concerns:

  • Online Presence
  • Time Management
  • Brand Monitoring
  • Attracting New Customers

It seemed most useful to show the group new tips and tools, but also new ways to use resources they were already using with greater efficiency…

Practical Social Media Tools For Small Business Owners

1) Tweetchat

As more and more businesses hop onto Twitter looking to establish relationships with hopeful customers, Twitter chats are increasingly popular.  Following along and keeping up with the pace of these conversations can be daunting.

Tweetchat gives you your own personal tweet space for whatever Twitter chat you are following.  The platform will show you only those engaged on that chat topic, and automatically includes the necessary #hashtag so your tweets are included too.  The tool will also help you feature or hide specific tweeters and makes it easy to reply and re-tweet.  A must for Twitter chats!

Helpful Twitter chats to search for:

  • #NMDChat – Thursdays, 10am ET; New Media Dayton’s social media topics.
  • #SMmanners – Tuesdays, 10pm ET; Social media etiquette.
  • #Toolschat – Wednesdays, 10pm ET; Social media tools.

2) Google AdWords – Keyword Tool

The main reason to have a website and be online is…to get found!  By people that are searching for products and services that your business offers.  Optimizing social media content is something many overlook.  The Google Adwords Keyword Tool identifies:

  • Level of competition for key words or phrases.
  • Global monthly searches for words/terms.
  • Local monthly searches (by country or other filters).
  • Approximate Cost-Per-Click (like a “hotness” indicator).

That information can be used for optimizing:

  • Website text.
  • Blog content.
  • Facebook posts (and other social networks).
  • Twitter tweets.
  • Alt. text on photos.
  • Attraction of stumblers on StumbleUpon.

All factors above make a big difference on how you rank in the search engines, and how people discover your business through social sharing.

3) Facebook Pages

On Facebook, this is the best way to market your brand and relate with people where they are already hanging out.  800+ million users are your potential audience!

Reasons to create a Facebook Page:

  • No limit on connections (fans).
  • Interact on Facebook as your brand name.
  • Social plugins for websites.
  • Insights & Analytics available.
  • Advertising options (with unmatched demographic targeting).
  • Sponsored stories – Use of content on the Facebook Page Wall.
  • Many opportunities to feature your brand via custom tabs & applications.

Businesses must comply with Facebook terms of service and operate from a Facebook Page.  Facebook’s Timeline – due to roll out soon – offers a “Profile Cover Image” – Convenient additional marketing space for every brand Facebook Page admin with a personal profile.

Facebook’s new Sponsored Stories tool capitalizes on conversation from the community, or interactions on the Page wall.  Sponsored Stories is available through the Advertising platform, and encourages individuals to react based on what their friends are doing on Facebook, or what a popular celebrity might like.

Worth noting:

  • Customized Welcome Tabs double visitor-to-fan conversions!
  • 48% of video referrals are from Facebook!
  • Facebook will eventually revoke access of those abusing marketing privileges via personal profiles.

4) YouTube

YouTube is the second most popular search engine.  Take a look at some statistics:

  • 2 billion videos are watched daily (YouTube)
  • 24 hours of video is uploaded every 60 seconds (YouTube).
  • 86 million viewers are looking at videos DAILY (Brightcove).
  • Video is 53x more likely to appear on 1st page Google search (Forrester)!
  • Adding video to email marketing increases customer interaction 200-300% (Brightcove)!
  • 60% of all traffic on the mobile web is video traffic (YouTube).

A highly versatile and powerful tool — Really, tying all social media thrills together!  YouTube now offers advanced analytics that give great insight to future opportunity for your business based on your audience’s interests. 

Here’s a video I created on editing tabs on your Facebook Page:

The video above is embedded – The information to do that is available right at YouTube.

5) SlideShare

Like YouTube for PowerPoint & PDF.

If you look on my side bar to the right, you’ll see my SlideShare presentation, “7 Game-changing Ways A Social Media Manager Can Help You Right Now.”

Benefits of using SlideShare:

  • Great social share opportunities.
  • Watch full screen if desired.
  • Embed presentations on websites or blogs.
  • Connect directly to LinkedIn profiles.
  • Zipcast – FREE online meetings allowing video transmission, type chat right with your slide deck.

SlideShare also gives great SEO.  You’ll find it frequently on first page search listings.  It’s like a stealth social weapon!

There are free options, as well as paid options for various levels of branding and presentation hosting.  There is also a rich analytics panel that offers terrific insight about where your customers and potential customers come from.  That knowledge allows businesses insight to where they should spend their development budgets.

6) Twylah

In short: Twitter brand pages. Here is why they are helpful and important:

  • The average tweet “dissipates” in 10 minutes or less.
  • 92% of Re-tweets occur in within the first hour.

Now that Google no longer allows real-time indexing for Twitter content, individual tweets are not considered with the same emphasis contributing to Google rankings.

Twylah makes a “blog page” out of your tweets, drives interaction with your tweet content, and also encourages more followers.  Even better, Twylah will allow you to brand your page, create a sub-domain, and own your Twitter content.  So, with Twylah, your tweets are giving you extra “Google love!”

I own my tweets… :D

7) Hootsuite

My preferred social media dashboard. Hootsuite lets you:

  • Schedule posts (individual and bulk).
  • Import Twitter lists.
  • Monitor ongoing Tweetchat conversations.
  • Manage multiple accounts.
  • View analytics & create reports.
  • Collaborate with team members (if needed).

It focuses on improving Twitter efficiency, but also coordinates connection and updates to other social networks.

On the Hootsuite menu: Facebook, Facebook Pages, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Ping.fm, MySpace, Mixi, and WordPress.com.  It also allows RSS feed.  Their new App Directory broadens connectivity to Fickr, YouTube, Tumblr, and Get Satisfaction.  Coming soon to the Hootsuite App Directory: Disqus, SlideShare, Constant Contact, Summify, Posterous Spaces, and Salesforce Chatter.

Hootsuite has a custom link shorter, is web-based, and is available for all mobile platforms.  Free, Pro, and Enterprise options available.

A fun access link for you: http://bit.ly/HOOTme

8) Tweetdeck

Tweetdeck is owned by Twitter and is available on a desktop platform, or by Chrome Application, and even mobile app.

Very similar to Hootsuite, the nice things about Tweetdeck is the more flexible color customization, and direct use of the bit.ly link shortener and tracker.  The ease to connect right with those analytics is a time-saver.  The ability to examine tweet success is very important for growth and development.

Tweetdeck offers basically the same scheduling and monitoring features as Hootsuite, though I have not heard of any plans for an App Directory.  Free plans are available, as well as paid options with more services.

9) Timely

Simple but nifty tool!

They analyze your most recent 199 tweets and schedule for maximum impact based on what you tweet about.  Here’s how it works:

  • Sign up for free.
  • Add your tweets.
  • The tool schedules the tweets for the best times.

Just a few short clicks & 140 characters or less.  The result is ultimately more re-tweets, @ mentions, and followers.

Having used Timely, I have to say that the results are positive and the results are as they claim.  My recommendation is to be available to respond to what you tweet. :)

10) TweetReach

First we explained how to jump in and use #hashtags.  Here’s the tool that helps measure a hashtag’s influence!

Why is that helpful?

  • Know the total number of tweets.
  • Know how many people your Twitter chat tweets are reaching.
  • Know how many regular tweets, re-tweets, and @ replies.
  • Know how many total impressions for each type of tweet.
  • Know who the best contributors are to your conversation.

Tweetreach provides a free analysis for the most recent 50 tweets in list and pie-chart format.  Export reports in Excel, PDF, or even get a link to pass along to team members.

Free on up to Enterprise level plans available for big business brands.

Shiney New Toys

Lucky for Michelle and I, we had an attentive crowd… There was one exciting incentive that kept our group listening with keen ears: Verizon Wireless was kind enough to award one of our attendees a new Droid RAZR — To celebrate the release of the item on that very day.  

A good size group of about 50 people were excited to win, but eagerly learned.  In order to win, they had to try the tools and complete exercises using the social media tools in order to be in the drawing.

What social media tools were they most excited about?

  • Twylah.
  • SlideShare.
  • Facebook Custom Tabs (with video).

So, if you’re a small business owner or self-employed consultant, that gives you an idea of what to check out first!

Michelle was kind enough to put our Social Media Tools presentation into Prezi — Another groovy visual tool.  (Thanks, Michelle!!)

So…

Did I miss any useful features in my descriptions above?

Which tool can’t you wait to try?

Please tell me in the comment box below… :)