Social media has quickly become the dominant form of media for billions of consumers around the world. It’s both entertaining and informative and allows them to engage with other people and brands. And, social media makes it easy for them to discover, shop and share their finds. Most consumers in the U.S. and close to half of the world’s population use social media, as do the majority of brands. The average internet user spends close to two and a half hours a day on social media.

Smart brands quickly realized that social media offers an unparalleled way to reach consumers. Social media marketing was born to do just that. With these strategies, brands use social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to promote their products or services. They provide content (sometimes created by influencers) and/or ads that are tailored for their target markets.

Why should you use social media marketing? Brands that don’t use it aren’t as visible online as their competitors and can seem less relevant. They miss out on the benefits that social media marketing can deliver. These include increases in brand awareness, engagement, traffic, leads and conversions. It’s also extremely cost-effective compared to other forms of marketing like television advertising.

Consumers, especially Millennials and Gen Zers, put greater trust in social media influencers than they do in traditional advertising. Another benefit of social media marketing is that it’s shareable and can be targeted to very broad or niche markets. It’s also immediate and adjustable, and results are easy to track.

Top Social Media Tools for Brands

Getting started with social media for newbies can be like wandering into an overgrown, unfamiliar forest without a map or GPS. Fortunately, there are some pretty powerful social media tools out there that brands can and should be using to help optimize their marketing strategies.

It doesn’t matter if you want to find the best search terms to use, get free images or track your results or your competitors’. These tools feature a host of ways to ramp up your brand’s social media game. Here are some of the top social media tools to check out, along with exactly what they do and the benefits of using them.

Google Trends

Google Trends can tell you the most popular search terms that were and are used within specific timeframes and from a variety of categories. For example, during 2018 Google Trends found that the top three trending news search terms were “World Cup,” “Hurricane Florence” and “Mega Millions result.”

The benefit is that you know which search terms consumers are using that are relevant to your brand and product. With this information, you can include those terms in your social media content to help drive engagement, leads and conversions. You can also analyze trends by region and country.

Unsplash

Unsplash is a website that helps you find free, high-quality, high-resolution images that you can use for your social media content. The site allows you to easily search its stock of more than 800,000 photos to find exactly what you’re looking for. With photo categories like travel, food and drink, business and work, fashion and nature, it’s an excellent resource for cost-conscious marketers and brands.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is the go-to tool for many brands and businesses. It can provide social media traffic reports that drill down deep for the details you need. You’ll easily hone in on which social media platforms deliver the most visitors, conversions, transactions and revenue to your website.

SEMrush

SEMrush is a website that provides website traffic analytics. For example, you can find out statistics for websites like the number of visits, unique visitors, average visit duration and traffic by country. You can also see what’s working for your competitors’ websites and review the top organic keywords and new keywords used in searches.

BuzzSumo

Are you looking for the influencers who are trending and the content that’s performing the best on social media in certain markets or industries? BuzzSumo is your tool. Brands and companies ranging from IBM and National Geographic to BuzzFeed and Vimeo use it to help develop their social media marketing strategies.

Brandwatch

Brandwatch has a range of products, including Brandwatch Analytics, for social media listening. With this tool, you know what people are saying about your brand and your competition and can see where and when they’re saying it. You can analyze the reviews and conversations to get a better understanding of your customers’ needs, wants and opinions.

Brands can also get assessments of their social media strategies. Brandwatch provides recommendations for improving strategy and lets you see where you rank among brands in your industry. Brandwatch crawls more than 95 million sites for data.

Feedly

Feedly is a handy RSS aggregator. It lets you put all your RSS feeds, say for bloggers, news feeds and influencers you’re partnering with, into one place. You can see them all at once easily.

HootSuite

The HootSuite platform is a comprehensive tool for managing social media and was one of the first, created in 2008. It lets you and your team do things like schedule posts and find, organize and boost content from your HootSuite dashboard. HootSuite also offers real-time data on social media listening. It allows you to set alerts for spikes in your mentions, build reports and measure the performance of your team.

You can also get data from social analytics apps and integrations like Talkwalker, KAWO for WeChat and Brandwatch. If your brand deals with a lot of different social media pages and accounts, HootSuite is a great choice.

Buffer

Some marketers prefer Buffer to HootSuite when it comes to social media management tools due to Buffer’s easy-to-use analytics and uncluttered interface. More than 75,000 businesses use Buffer, including well-known brands like Shopify and Spotify. Chief among its benefits is that it makes social media planning and collaboration easy.

Visage

Eye-catching graphics are a crucial feature of social media. Visage helps you create engaging graphics tailored for each platform and keeps your designs on-brand. You can edit the designs, making changes like resizing items and reordering layers. Visage makes social media graphics-creation easy. Enjoy features like the ability to reference your brand’s style guide, edit text, integrate with Google sheets and create live links in your graphics.

Canva

Canva is a social media graphics tool that lets you design campaigns and customize your designs for low or no cost. You can also choose from Canva’s stock of social media layouts and photographs. Tweak text, fonts, backgrounds and colors and then share your designs directly to social media.

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