You’re going to use social media for your business; you can’t avoid it.
Social media promotion and engagement are inevitable facets of a successful modern business plan.
What’s more, you shouldn’t neglect your social presence as brand image and ownership are some of the key aspects of sustainable business. Social media is the voice of your company; take charge of it, embrace it, and make it work for you with a solid campaign management software.
We'll see how 5 Top Social Media Software rank for:
- Small Business
- Customer Engagement
- Social Monitoring
- Growing Your Customers
- Contests, Campaigns, and Promotion
We’ll look at each category like this:
- KPI (Key Performance Indicator) – the typical measure of success within that category.
- Summary of goal – a brief description of why and what it is that you’re working towards
- Ranking & rationale – How each solution stacks up and why it’s better than the rest.
Here are the contenders
Best Social Media Software for Small Business
KPI: Return on Investment (ROI)
Summary of goal Small businesses are usually strapped for both time and money. So you need software that will give you the biggest return for your investment of both time and money. While there are free solutions out there, you will quickly find that feature limitations will drive you to purchase a more complete solution (or at least upgrade) sooner rather than later.
Rignite is packed with features to save you time. Cutting out wasted minutes makes social media management less of a burden and can make each social action far more profitable. Rignite also helps small businesses get results by focusing on social media activities geared towards your specific objectives.
The “Campaign” features were built with strategy “baked in" so your business can quickly set up social media marketing campaigns that are targeted to your business goals, again making each action more profitable per the time spent.
Sprout has features that make it easy to monitor multiple social media accounts. Many small businesses love the look of Sprout, especially the reporting features that gives them a snapshot of how well they are doing on social media. Sprout’s focus is on helping companies handle customer support via social media; this can offset support costs associated with support agents and help desks.
So for businesses that handle a lot of support issues via social media, you will find Sprout Social very useful. Their pricing recently went up which might make it hard to justify the budget if you are looking at ROI specifically. If you don't have a ton of engagement or haven't yet figured out how to make social media work for your business, it may be a hard sell to the financial department.
Hootsuite is mostly for enterprise businesses that have a dedicated social media team whose full time job is to manage social media. There is a free plan that some small businesses might like if they are not very active on social media, but once you need to advance the plan, you’ll have to upgrade to plans that are costly and aren't really meant for small business.
Shortstack could be a great solution for small businesses that are looking to run campaigns to engage their following. Their pricing is realistic for small businesses. However, they only solve the need for running campaigns and do not support features for monitoring, posting, replying on multiple social accounts. This can make the ROI on this purchase far less if you are looking for more functionality.
Some of their features are priced pretty high for small business budgets. However, their Campaigns have pricing tiers based on follower count. So those businesses with a small following might be able to justify the spend. They don't have features for monitoring engagement on social media so you will need to find another solution for scheduling posts, monitoring, and replying to engagement.
Best Social Media Software for Ecommerce
Summary of goal
Ecommerce is all about driving online sales. You need software that will help you drive your social following to purchase. You will also need to keep customers loyal and coming back for more (repeat purchases).
They have a lot of features that support visual content marketing, an important aspect of product-based ecommerce. One of their features enables the customer to share brand-related content with their network, which can greatly increase brand awareness through referrals, ensuring additional revenue.
Campaigns, like giveaways and contests, are an integral part of ecommerce’s social media strategy. The variety of campaign types you can run through Shortstack give your company the flexibility it needs to continually engage your following with fun, profitable promotions.
Rignite has a type of campaign for moving prospects through each stage of your funnel, whether it's to grow your following, boost engagement, or drive sales. One particular type that is overwhelmingly useful for ecommerce businesses is a coupon code campaign.
For example: you can run campaigns that use coupons as incentive for following your business on Twitter. Rignite has a social media app for Shopify making it possible to track the revenue and coupon redemptions from any coupon campaign that you run through Rignite.
Sprout Social's main focus is on engagement, metrics, and customer support through social media. For large ecommerce businesses where reputation management is a full-time priority, this can be a good solution for handling a high volume of @mentions and conversations (whether they are complaints or loyal fans raving about them). Aside from this, there aren’t many features that are directly focused on ecommerce.
Hootsuite's main focus is on posting to and monitoring multiple social media accounts. They don't handle the management of promotions, campaigns, contest, etc. So they don't really have any features that are distinctly intended for ecommerce.
Best Social Media Software for Engagement
KPI: Engagement Rate – the percentage of your following that is actively engaging with you via likes, comments, and shares on FB, or @mentions and RTs on Twitter.
Summary of goal
Growing a social media following doesn't do much for a business unless you have a healthy percentage of that following that are engaged. Keeping your following engaged helps to keep your business at the front of their minds so when it’s time for a purchase, your brand is recalled quickly.
Contests and giveaways are one of the best ways to keep your following engaged. Rignite makes it fast and easy to set up campaigns that run on Facebook and Twitter. You just set the entry requirement to be some form of engagement (such as a like or comment on a Facebook post, a photo tweet to enter a hashtag photo contest on Twitter) and set parameters for the contest and schedule your posts automatically.
With Facebook’s changes to their organic reach, keeping fans engaged will increase the chance that they'll see your post again when you are ready to promote a sale, new product, or coupon offer. In addition to promoting your business and engaging your fans through campaigns, Rignite also has social monitoring tools with team assignment features that make handling engagement easy, so you can be quick to respond to all that increased customer engagement!
All of the campaign and promotion types that you can run through Shortstack are very engaging. In fact, engagement is Shortstack's strength. However, Shortstack does not handle inbound engagement, meaning that you cannot reply or monitor through its interface. Companies cannot see who is talking to or about them and then respond.
Similar to Shortstack, Offerpop has a number of campaign types that can be run through their system. However, they also don't have any features for managing incoming conversation, making their customer engagement very one-sided.
Sprout is good for handling incoming engagement and routing it to someone for follow up, making it a good solution for a business that need to be very responsive. Aside from being able to post messages from Sprout, they don't have any features that are geared toward encouraging engagement.
For example: you cannot create an advanced campaign, contest, giveaway, etc. You can post about it from Sprout, but you can’t set up the mechanics of it or separately monitor its progress.
Hootsuite's main strength is in monitoring social media across multiple accounts. For companies looking to manage mentions and some engagement across many accounts, this could be a good solution. However, like Sprout Social, they don't have any features for setting up and managing campaigns / promotions (which really is the key to effective engagement).
Best Social Media Software for Monitoring
KPI: Response Time or Number of Replies
Summary of goal
There are two main reasons brands should monitor social media:
- To make sure they are responsive to the people who are directly trying to engage with them on any number of social channels. It's like responding to email and answering a phone, except the messages can come through any social channel and in a variety of forms (@mention, DM, or reply on Twitter, private message, wall post, or comment on a post on FB, etc)
- To find opportunities to engage and build relationships with people who have an interest or need in their area of expertise. That can mean making a meaningful connection with influencers or loyal customers. Or it can mean finding a prospective customer who is publicly seeking advice for something that the business can help solve.
This is what all of Hootsuite's main features are built around and by far its strongest asset. It's a great solution for enterprises that have many accounts with a lot of activity. It enables the community managers to route social posts to the appropriate functions / departments within the organization and to get at-a-glance visibility of all of your social activity in just a few clicks
Sprout is a great solution for monitoring customer sentiment. Their weekly reports do a nice job of depicting how well the company has done on social media (including growth, engagement metrics, etc) and present them in one of the industry’s most digestible, graphic analytics reports.
With Rignite, you can create and monitor social media streams to focus on specific priorities. You have the ability to create streams that watch for activity on your social account, configurable to look at it from whatever angle you choose. For example, it’s possible to monitor all accounts in one stream or create multiple segments, breaking up accounts into groups or individual streams.
There are also streams to monitor for keyword mentions, which help to discover people talking within your area of expertise. Plus, you can have streams that focus on the VIPs you want to monitor closely, without sifting through the noise associated with their accounts.
Also, there are team collaboration features that make it very easy to "pass the ball" to the person managing that channel. This helps smaller businesses (who don't have a dedicated social media manager) avoid missing and forgetting conversations. If anyone on the team notices a prime opportunity to engage, or sees someone talking to them on social, they can very easily assign that post and notify the right person to respond.
4 & 5. Offerpop and Shortstack
Neither one of these solutions have monitoring capabilities.
Best Social Media Software for Growing Business
KPI: Increase in Revenue and Profit
Summary of goal
Social media can help a business grow by improving performance at each step of the sales funnel. Businesses need a software solution that will help them be strategic in how they move prospects through each step of the funnel. And they need a way to measure the results of their efforts toward accomplishing those goals.
As mentioned above, the Campaigns module was built with strategy in mind. Your business should continually run campaigns that target different goals (a specific one at each stage of the funnel) to ensure you are continually generating awareness, growing and engaging your following, and subsequently converting them into customers.
The Campaign module has a different campaign for every stage of this funnel, with a simple workflow that makes it quick and painless to set up; all with very low maintenance.
Running promotions on social media can lead directly to sales. For businesses who are constantly running promotions to drive sales, this is a solid solution for managing and creating promotions that are designed specifically to drive sales.
Offerpop’s features are focused on commerce-related campaigns, particularly driving referrals by word of mouth. This kind of wide, “top of funnel” exposure can help businesses reach a large audience and generate buzz that, over time, they can convert to customers.
4 & 5. Hootsuite and Sprout Social
As you may have discerned by now, both of these solutions are more about maintaining and managing the social presence of multiple accounts. They don't have features that directly help businesses manage strategic social media marketing. If I had to put one over the other, Sprout would win simply because of their reporting. At least a business can tell how well they have done on social with those reports. In either case, you can still be strategic and make strategic decisions based on the information, but in terms of a solution to manage growth strategy, they fall short.
Best Social Media Software for Running Campaigns, Giveaways, and Contests
KPI: Depends on the goal of the campaign but # of entries is a typical high-level goal.
Summary of goal
Businesses can use giveaways, contests, and coupon campaigns to accomplish a number of business objectives. You need a software solution that will simplify the campaign set up, management, and execution of a campaign, as well as help you to sufficiently promote the campaign. You will also need a solution that gives the flexibility to fit your campaigns within your unique business model.
1 & 2. Offerpop and Shortstack
These two solutions are both heavily focused on features-filled campaigns with complicated logistics, multiple entry mechanisms, and more.
Given the variations and parameters required to be setup, they can be hard to use and time consuming to get a campaign running, though they are exceptionally powerful in this category. For marketers who are advanced enough, and who run lots of large-scale complex campaigns, they are great solutions.
Social media contests and promotions have many combined indicators of success that are scattered across any number of channels (page likes, post likes, comments, replies, @mentions, hashtags, emails, etc). This can make setting up campaigns overwhelming for small business owners and first-time media managers.
Rignite's Campaign feature has a step-by-step wizard that walks the user through all of the considerations and parameters that need to be setup when preparing to launch your campaigns. Rignite simplifies the complexity by presenting only those options that are relevant to the business goal at hand, which you choose at the onset of the campaign.
4 & 5. Hootsuite and Sprout Social
Neither one of these has features for setting up, running, and managing campaigns.
More social media resources?
Have you used any of these solutions? Share your thoughts and experience with the community in the comments section below!
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