It's very easy to get overwhelmed when you first start using social media as a business tool. I definitely struggled to get to grips with the sheer volume of platforms, terminology, best-practice advice and, of course, apps that all promise to help streamline and make the best use of your time.
I have to admit, I probably spend a little too much time trying out different new 'must have' apps before, inevitably, resorting to a tried and tested selection that I find works for me. That's not to say I don't add to my online weaponry from time-to-time but the tool really has to do something different and make a big difference to my efforts.
So, I thought I'd put together a list of my favorite, and most useful, apps. All of the apps and tools below are free (or, at least, offer free trials), but to get all the functionality available for some, you'll need to upgrade to the paid versions:
There are a number of amazing tools for scheduling social media content, Hootsuite, Sprout Social, Sendible, etc.) but the one I keep coming back to is Buffer. It covers a number of social channels (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. You can also add Pinterest if you sign on for a paid account). For a no cost at all you can schedule up-to-10 posts ahead of time and ensure you're online even when you're not.
If you don't have time to create content, at very least you'll need to share relevant stuff to engage your followers. BuzzSumo is an awesome tool for seeking out relevant content based on any keyword you've chosen. Say you sell ice cream - all you need to do is perform a search for the phrase ice cream and BuzzSumo will return any results of content posted which includes those words.
I love this tool for determining how many people are searching for conversations based around the hashtags I choose. Just search for a hashtag and RiteTag pulls in the results.
Sprout Social (the social media management tool) have produced this free tool to help size images for all the major social media platforms. It's a real must-have.
This tool helps build a Twitter following by asking you to input keywords relevant to your business on their system. They then seek out and follow Twitter account based on these keywords, simultaneously unfollowing accounts which don't follow back.
A really helpful website which helps determine the best time to post on Twitter. Tweriod scans your tweets and reports back with not only the best tweets times but also when your following are most likely to be online. Perfect for ensuring your messages reach them when they're around to see them.
If you want to see what people are saying about your business across social media and the web, then check out Social Mention. Input any relevant keyword (your business name, for example) and a simple search returns all the mentions available.
Another great tool to help with Twitter housekeeping. ManageFlitter helps to tidy up your account, removing fake followers, inactive followers, etc.
All social media analytics are free. Ignore these at your peril as here is where you'll get extremely valuable information about your followers, their interests, actions and demographics. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, to name just four, all have free analytics available.
Alltop is a free content curation website. It allows you to set up your own Alltop page which draws in all the latest online content depending on the topics you choose.
This tool is used for finding, planning and posting content to Facebook and Twitter. It's a paid app, but is useful if you want an all-in-one tool for curation and posting purposes.
Want to know the reach of a particular tweet, and who engaged with it? This tool will do just that. You simply paste the tweet in question into the search and TweetReach will do the rest.
Twitter Advanced Search
This is one of Twitter's best utilities, but not one people use enough. It allows you to tailor search results to specific date ranges, people and more, which is way beyond the capabilities of Twitter's basic search box.
So, these are the tools that I've been using as I try to build my profiles on social media and they've all, in one way or another, been a great help. This is not an endorsement of these sites or their services - I just wanted to share what I've found useful. Which apps do you find have helped you? Let me know in the comments below.