Banana Republic and Susan's Neighborhood Shirt Shop could be using the same social networks--Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc.--but their marketing plans and their marketing tools are likely quite different. Enterprise solutions are great for the big guys, but the rest of us are in the market for something more our size.
Small businesses are eager to find valuable tools that take a lot of the time and trouble out of social media marketing and that do so without costing an arm and a leg. I think we'd all want tools like that, right?
Well, I went searching for just this kind of simple, easy, cost-effective tool, and I came up with 60 that made the cut. I tried out more than 100 in total, and I'm sure I missed a few along the way.
Hopefully you find one or two here that you can use in your small scale marketing that can get you big results.
A complete Twitter management tool (that also comes complete with Buffer integration), SocialBro can tell you everything you want to know about your Twitter account--community information, analytics on all your posts, and much, much more. There is a 15-day free trial to test out all the features.
Put this tool to use: The community insights are fascinating, and there's some real value to be gained from the tweet analytics (pictured above), which show you which posts got the most engagement and when.
Now owned by Twitter, Tweetdeck is one of the most popular tools for complete Twitter management. Tweetdeck lets you track, organize, and engage with your followers through a customizable dashboard where you can quickly see at-a-glance the activity from different lists, followers, hashtags, and more.
Put this tool to use: What do you find yourself checking when you go to Twitter? Whatever it is, you can add it to your Tweetdeck dashboard and see everything in one view with nary an extra click. Could be a huge time saver.
Tweetcaster is a Twitter management tool for iOS and Android devices, and it provides the basics of what you'd expect from a Twitter dashboard plus a few fun extras: enhanced search and lists, hiding unwanted tweets, and photo effects for your pics.
Put this tool to use: Keep the app on the first screen of your phone and tablet so you can easily dip in and out of your Twitter streams when time allows.
Followerwonk is one of our favorite ways to analyze and optimize our Twitter accounts at Buffer. With Followerwonk, you can do all sorts of amazingly helpful things like analyze your Twitter followers, compare different users, and search through bios--all for free. There are even more features--like tracking and sorting your followers--that you can access with a 30-day trial.
Put this tool to use: One of our favorite uses of Followerwonk is to take the time-of-day charts and sync to a Buffer account. You can also take a close-up look at various stats from those you follow to see which accounts you could maybe prune (because of factors like inactivity).
This Twitter tool identifies your top 10 followers in three specific areas: Best Followers, Most Engaged, and Most Valuable. Your engaged followers are those who interact with you most often (replies, retweets, and favorites), your most valuable followers are the influential accounts, and your best followers are a combination of the two. Social Rank will run the numbers for free and show you the results today then follow-up each month with an email report.
Put this tool to use: Social Rank can help you hone your Twitter focus so that you are aware of the followers who might deserve extra attention. You can even place these MVPs onto a specific Twitter list.
For quite awhile, I read the name of this tool as Manager "Filter," which actually isn't too far off from what ManageFlitter does. The Twitter tool helps you filter who you follow: Easily unfollow those who don't follow you back, those who've never changed their profile photo, and those who are inactive.
Put this tool to use: You can batch select these groups of inactive or non-following users in order to give yourself a better following count (and closer to a golden ratio).
Must Be Present
Built by the team at Sprout Social, Must Be Present searches your Twitter account to find how quickly you respond to mentions. Their engagement reports place you in a percentile based on other accounts so you can see how you stack up to the speed of others.
Put this tool to use: Set goals for response time on Twitter, and use Must Be Present to track them. Aim for a certain percentile or a particular average response time.
Find out when you'll receive the most exposure for your tweets by letting Tweriod analyze your account. The Tweriod reports break it down into daily and hourly windows when you can expect the highest engagement with what you share.
Put this tool to use: If you use social media scheduling apps for your automation, it goes without saying that sharing at optimal times would be best. Use your Tweriod insights to check your scheduling, or plan your social media drivebys around this time.
Tweepi has a number of useful Twitter features, many of which fall into a couple categories: Managing your followers, and supercharging who you're following. For management, you can unfollow in batches those who don't follow you back, and you can bulk follow another account's complete list of followers or who they're following.
Put this tool to use: Tweepi's detailed info on your followers can give you ideas on who to follow or unfollow. Try the cleanup section to bulk edit your connections on Twitter.
To schedule tweets from any app, simply ask Tweet4me to do it for you. Once you're signed up with Tweet4me, you can send them a direct message that contains a certain prefix, containing information on when and what to post.
Put this tool to use: If you find yourself double-booked and needing to post to Twitter in 30 minutes, Tweet4Me could be your saving grace.
Commun.it can help you organize, grow, and manage your followers, and it can do so across multiple accounts and profiles. At-a-glance, you can see different parts of your community management, like latest tweets from your stream and which new followers might appreciate a welcome.
Put this tool to use: Keep on top of who you should be following by listening to Commun.it's advice on the most influential accounts around your brand.
Twtrland gives you a snapshot of your Twitter profile and can even track Facebook and Instagram for you as well. Two of Twtrland's most helpful tools are a live count of how many followers are currently online and advanced search functionality tha tincludes keywords, locations, and companies.
Put this tool to use: Local companies can perform a location search to see which area accounts are most popular and potentially worth following.
A super-powered Twitter search tool, NeedTagger runs language filters and keyword searches to determine which Twitter users might need your product or service. Sounds too good to be true, right? The tool shows you real-time search results and sends a daily email digest of new finds.
Put this tool to use: Build a Twitter list of potential customers so you can learn and understand their needs and how they communicate.
The Twitter click tracking at Tweeter Spy can tell you which tweets result in the most traffic back to your site. To install, you'll need to insert a line of code at your website, then you can manage your Twitter click stats right through Tweeterspy.
Put this tool to use: Tweeter Spy has a neat feature that allows you to "Say Thanks" (with a tweet) to Twitter profiles who refer big traffic to your site.
For those looking to feed an RSS of a blog straight to your Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn profile, Twitter Feed has you covered. Simply enter your feed, connect your social accounts, and send your posts away, complete with tracking tools for follow-up.
Put this tool to use: If you have feeds for separate categories on your blog, you can set up Twitter Feed to blast only particular content--new product announcements or featured content.
This Twitter tool shows you the reach and exposure of the tweets you send, collecting data on who retweets you and the influence of each.
Put this tool to use: Identify which of your tweets has spread the farthest (and why), then try to repeat the formula with future tweets.
Twazzup offers real-time monitoring and analytics for Twitter on any name, keyword, or hashtag you choose. The Twazzup results page delivers interesting insights like who the top influencers are for your keyword and which top links are associated with your search.
Put this tool to use: You can track your first and last name here to see what's being mentioned about you outside of direct @-replies. You might be particularly interested to peek at the links and influencers associated with your name.
Topsy is as a powerful search engine for Twitter content. Want to know how a certain term is being used on Twitter? You can search links, tweets, photos, videos, and influencers.
Put this tool to use: See how often your blog is being linked to on Twitter. Type in "site:yourdomain.com," and you can see how many tweets have included inks back to your website (see above for an example of the Buffer blog).
What should you be doing with your Facebook page? LikeAlyzer will flat-out tell you. The Facebook analysis tool comes up with stats and insights into your page and starts off every report with a list of recommendations.
Put this tool to use: Keep track of where you stand compared to other pages by following the comparison of your page to average page rank, industry-specific page rank, and the rank of similar brands.
Fanpage Karma shows all sorts of valuable info related to your Facebook page like growth, engagement, service and response time, and of course Karma (a weighted engagement value).
Put this tool to use: FanKarma also does insight into Twitter and YouTube, the latter of which might be particularly valuable if you're building up a video marketing strategy.
Wolfram Alpha Facebook Report
The knowledge engine of Wolfram Alpha has a neat tool to analyze your Facebook profile. Their Facebook report (a free feature with any Wolfram account) is incredibly detailed--everything from the content you share to the relationship status pie charts of your friends.
Put this tool to use: See at-a-glance how your profile updates are being received. If you use your personal Facebook for marketing your business, you can optimize the type of content you share to your profile.
Facebook Custom Audiences
If you're advertising on Facebook, you can use a handy, built-in tool to cater to a specific audience of your choosing by telling Facebook whom to target. Upload an Excel file or link directly to your MailChimp lists. Facebook will create a custom audience based on which of your contacts is on Facebook. This feature can be added by clicking on the Audiences link inside Facebook's Ads Manager.
Put this tool to use: Create custom campaigns that target a list of leads or customers. You can get extra specific with these ads since the demographic already has a familiarity with your brand. (Facebook recommends that audience sizes be at least 1,000 people so that your ad dollar is well spent.)
Ever wonder what your competition is up to? Rival IQ tracks a list of brands of your choosing and monitors their activity on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and even SEO. Your free 14-day trial gives you full access to competitor tracking and the dashboards for each of the different networks and search factors.
Put this tool to use: Rival IQ can show you insight into your competition but also insight into your industry as a whole. For instance, learn from the Day of the Week chart to see when content from your industry is most likely to go viral.
Curious what the most popular content is on any given topic or any particular website? Buzz Sumo has this covered with a search tool that tracks content and ranks according to shares on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest.
Put this tool to use: With Buzz Sumo, you can use the insights to steer the content you create and share on social media, learning how to craft headlines and what types of content each network is most interested in.
Klout figures to be one of the more well-known tools on this list. It collects information on a person's various social profiles to come up with a popularity score of 1 to 100 and then lets you follow your score over time as it ebbs and flows (ideally flowing upward).
Put this tool to use: The site has added quite a bit of functionality beyond Klout score. You can now track topics, view content suggestions, and post straight to your connected social profiles.
There will be times when you'll need/want to know how popular your content is (like in a weekly metrics report, perhaps). SharedCount shows you quickly, at a glance, how far and wide a piece of content spread.
Put this tool to use: Click over to SharedCount's multi-URL dashboard to see a table of multiple URLs for a week's worth of content.
Google URL Builder
If you're dabbling in advanced campaign tracking, you've likely read up on UTM tracking codes in links. A UTM code is basically extra characters at the end of a link that help flesh out your analytics reports, showing you where your traffic came from and what campaigns it's all associated with. Google has a free tool to create these UTMs for you.
Put this tool to use: Add a UTM tracking to all links that are associated with a single marketing push. That way you can better measure the impact and ROI from your particular event.
Infogr.am helps you build sparkling infographics by entering information right into the Infogram spreadsheets that are built right in to the editor. Standard features are there, too, like design templates and a full design editor.
Put this tool to use: Visualize a monthly report for your business, and share this on social media. You'll get the boost of visual content plus transparency.
Piktochart is a free-to-try infographic creator with a full editor and themes to turn your data into a work of art.
Put this tool to use: The next time you have some overly complicated (or lengthy) numbers to share, try putting them into a visual design.
If you'd like an extra hand creating visual content like infographics and charts, you can hit the Visually marketplace and find professionals to do the work for you, at up to 1/5 the cost you'd incur going through an agency. Visually specializes in infographics, videos, interactives, and presentations.
Put this tool to use: While the pricing is discounted, it's still an investment (infographics start at $1,000, for instance.) Save your Visually needs for a rainy day, then make a big splash with a feature announcement video or a presentation for investors.
There is a lot to love about Canva. The graphic design app has an incredibly intuitive drag-and-drop interface, and the tooltips and templates make it ideal for beginner designers. Everything is free unless you choose to use something from Canva's library of stock photos.
Put this tool to use: One of Canva's default templates is a Pinterest graphic, which comes premade with optimal size for a pin (735 pixels wide by 1102 pixels tall).
A tool we use regularly here on the Buffer blog, Compfight is our source for creative commons images to accompany our content. For your social media posts, images like these can be great additions to a visual content strategy (just be sure to give credit where credit's due--each compfight picture comes with attribution).
Put this tool to use: Build a small library of free-to-use photos for upcoming social sharing. Sometimes you may come across a good image that just doesn't quite fit your needs. Save it for later in your Dropbox or on a private WordPress page.
A good graphics program can be a boon to your social media marketing. BeFunky is one of the best--and easiest--ones around, with a complete suite of image editing tools like cropping, scaling, filters, text, and more.
Put this tool to use: I'm sure you've seen inspirational quotes placed beautifully onto inspirational photos. Visual content like this is ideal for social networks, and you can pull this off easily with BeFunky.
Who doesn't love GIFs? If your social media presence is strong on a place like Tumblr or Google+, then having GIF-making capabilities can come in handy. LICEcap is a downloadable program that creates GIFs from what you see on your screen.
Put this tool to use: Create a GIF of your product or service in action so you can share with fans and potential customers.
A good problem to have is when it becomes difficult to keep track of all the different places you are mentioned on social media. Mention prides itself on "going beyond Google Alerts" to track absolutely anywhere that your name or your company could be mentioned online.
Put this tool to use: You might be surprised to find out how often people tweet and share your name online without an @-mention (I know I was). When you subscribe to Mention's daily email, you get all these wayward HTs right in your inbox, and the web dashboard even flags certain mentions as high priority.
Digests can be a neat way to track your social media metrics, and NutshellMail collects your activity on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter (and even places like Yelp and Foursquare) to provide an email overview of your accounts. You set how often and when you want to receive the recap emails.
Put this tool to use: If you have a weekly metrics plan, you can have NutshellMail send you a message once a week with an overview of your accounts. You can then extract the data and insights here straight into your weekly report.
As a tracking tool, SocialMention has some neat bonus insights beyond their in-depth keyword tracking. SocialMention tracks areas like sentiment, passion, reach, and strength to not just tell you what's being said about your search but how those reactions feel.
Put this tool to use: While you track your brand or yourself, you can also see how your sentiment changes over time. Are your mentions positive or negative? And how will this change from month to month and week to week?
The tracking tool keeps track of your hashtag campaign or keyword on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook with a full dashboard of analytics, demographics, and influencers.
Put this tool to use: Start a hashtag around an upcoming event, and keep track of the popularity of the tag before, during, and after.
The daily email from News.me contains the top five stories shared by your networks on Twitter and Facebook. (The email is branded with Digg as the two partnered up.)
Put this tool to use: The News.me email arrives every morning, so you can add the email to your social media workflows. Check what your networks are most interested in, then respond right away.
Feedly is one of the best RSS services out there because it does all the basics of RSS well (feed organization, display, etc.) and innovates with some really helpful new features. Plus, it works and looks great on any device you have.
Put this tool to use: You can follow any number of relevant blogs and sites in your industry, and if you're pressed for time, you can scan Feedly's share counts next to each story or turn on the Featured posts section to quickly pick out the content that is most valuable and shared. (See screenshot above for an example.)
With Pocket, you can grab the content on your social networks that looks good to you and read it later in a stripped down, easy-on-the-eyes view.
Put this tool to use: Combined with IFTTT or Zapier (see below), you can send favorite stories straight from Pocket to Twitter.
Paper.li lets you create a daily newspaper of your favorite tweets and stories and share this paper with your followers.
Put this tool to use: Create an industry-specific daily or weekly newspaper, and take advantage of the extra opportunity to connect with and recognize some of your influencers.
Looking for new content to share? (Aren't we all?) Swayy can be a helpful tool for finding stories based on your interests, as determined by the stuff you've shared before. Connect your Twitter or Facebook account for free, and Swayy will check your audience for the type of content they might like best and make suggestions based on its findings.
Put this tool to use: Sharing interesting content on social media is a great way to build your authority and expertise on a topic. Customize Swayy's suggested topic matches so that you get only the most accurate suggestions.
Team collaboration on social media can be a very helpful asset when it comes to keeping a queue filled. Pie is designed to make this process as simple as possible as you can collect the neat stories you find online and chat about them with your social media team or your team in general. There is even a Pie browser extension that makes it possible to add stories straight from the browser.
Put this tool to use: Collect the cool stories you find online, and use feedback from your coworkers to decide what gets shared to your social accounts. You can make it as simple as a two-Like minimum for getting the go-ahead to post.
The free version of Bottlenose's enterprise tool helps you search and discover new content from Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. The tool highlights trending content based on your interests.
Put this tool to use: If your brand is big into LinkedIn, this may be a helpful tool for discovering popular content from the network.
Built by the team here at Buffer, the Digg Digg plugin adds a floating share bar to all of your posts so your readers can easily share to Twitter, Facebook, Buffer, and almost 20 more sites.
Put this tool to use: If a floating bar isn't your style or doesn't fit with your blog layout, customize the Digg Digg bar to appear fixed at the top or bottom of every post.
Built by the team at Digital Telepathy, Flare is a social share plugin for WordPress sites and part of an overall website-boosting suite of products delivered through the Filament plugin. Filament allows you to drag and drop your social share buttons wherever you'd like on your site.
Put this tool to use: Find the place that makes the most sense for your share buttons--sidebar, header, footer, etc.--and fix it up easily.
Another part of Digital Telepathy's Filament plugin is Ivy, a simple tool that allows your website visitors to highlight any passage of text and share directly to Twitter, Facebook, or email.
Put this tool to use: Ideally your visitors will be the ones putting this tool to use, but you can help them along with a little prodding to "highlight to share."
"Pin It" Button for Images
Add a "Pin It" button to all the images on your blog with this free WordPress plugin. Each time a visitor hovers over an image, they'll see a stylized "Pin It" button appear on the image and can share directly to Pinterest.
Put this tool to use: If you are hoping to attract more Pinterest shares to your blog, the Pinterest button for images could be a real boon. It's great for blogs with lots of highly visual content.
This tool for LinkedIn connections works as a digital tickle file. You can place your contacts into different columns for weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annual reminders to get in touch with your contacts.
Put this tool to use: Place your key influencers into a monthly column so that you can be reminded to stay in regular contact.
With Rapportive, you can get a heap of information on each of your email contacts, including the social accounts they're connected with and where they're employed. Currently Rapportive works only with Gmail.
Put this tool to use: When you make a connection with a new person over email, Rapportive can show you how to followup for connections on their various social networks.
Shortening a URL on Twitter can be a must as you try to squeeze inside the 140-character limit. Bitly is one of the original link shorteners (and integrated with Buffer, too). If you use Bitly on its own, you'll get a full history of the link's performance as well as an overview of all the links you've ever shared.
Put this tool to use: You can use bitly outside of Twitter, too. Consider cleaning up some long or ugly URLs when you're posting to Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+ or even when you're writing an ebook or email.
Rev is a complete transcription and translation service that can help convert your audio or your English into the format and language you need.
Put this tool to use: If you conduct interviews of your customers, you can use Rev to convert the audio to text for easier assimilation into marketing personas or social media profiles.
ShareRoot Board Cover Creator
ShareRoot has a handful of tools that are specific for boosting Pinterest engagement, promotion, and measuring. Some tools are inactive or under development, but one that is live now is a Pinterest Board Cover Creator that lets you create images to use as the cover for your different pin boards.
Put this tool to use: Build some really awesome Pinterest covers to make your overall page stand out to new visitors.
An app for iOS and Android, Jelly is billed as a social search engine--you ask questions with photos, maps, and friends and get the answers from people who know best. For instance, show folks your location and get recommendations from locals on where to eat.
Put this tool to use: Brands can connect on Jelly and then be able to view which of their followers on other social networks are active on Jelly. This gives brands an extra opportunity to connect and add value where their customers spend their time.
SteadyDemand's Google+ Page Audit
For an overview of the health of your Google+ page, you can use SteadyDemand's tool to investigate what's working and what's not. The tool couldn't be simpler: Just input the URL of your company's Google+ page (ours was https://plus.google.com/u/0/+Bufferapp/posts) and then see the report on all your page activity.
Put this tool to use: Google+ insights are much harder to come by than those on Facebook and Twitter, so tools like this can help show you if all your G+ marketing has been worth it or not.
Are videos part of your social media marketing plan? If you're anxious to jump into video content, Powtoon can be a free way to test and see if it might work for you. With Powtoon, you can create and edit video clips and upload straight to YouTube.
Put this tool to use: Put together a product demo for what you sell, and share this on social media to give people a visual demonstration of what your business is about.
This free iOS app has you take a picture of a business card and then stores the information into your contacts and finds the person on LinkedIn. Great for expos and conferences.
Put this tool to use: Scan the business cards of new contacts you meet and quickly see on LinkedIn which connections you have in common.
Social is just a small part of what IFTTT can do. The Internet automation app can do everything from text you tomorrow's weather to automatically update your Twitter with your Instagram photos. IFTTT connects with more than 90 channels, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
Put this tool to use: You can sync IFTTT with your Buffer account to schedule things like Buffering each Twitter post that you favorite.
Zapier is a bigger version of IFTTT--more channels to connect but not quite free. You do get to create five free recipes before upgrading, so you can try out Zapier with tools like MailChimp and Disqus and 250 more.
Put this tool to use: You can sync your email campaigns with your social accounts, sending links to your campaigns as tweets, posts, or Buffers to all your favorite social places.
Are there any social media tools here that you might try? Any of your favorites that weren't included? I'd love to build the list out even more, and your input would be excellent! Share your favorites in the comments.
This article originally appeared in Buffer and is reprinted with permission.