We’re all looking for ways to improve how we market our business through the many social media channels available.
Paying for advertising through the social media channels can help but it’s very costly.
There are many tools and apps that can help with your marketing and, although most are paid, it’s a very competitive area so pricing is often quite good.
In this article we’ve taken a look at 8 social media marketing tools that can help accelerate your business, and grow your following and your revenue.
Are you ready…? Ok, here goes:
Shortstack provides a broad range of functionality, mainly focused on competitions and polls for Facebook (and you can also run the competitions on your website). They have a good range of apps with an easy-to-use setup tool, and they also offer the ability to extend the apps beyond the templates provided.
How much will it cost you?
There is a good free option and then pricing goes up to $30 per month, which allows you run your competitions on Facebook only. As you go further up the pricing scale you get more features, including the ability to run competitions on your website (and also through mobile). You can upgrade to a package at $75, $150 or $300 per month.
What are the main features?
- Apps for Contests – You can create apps for a wide variety of contests, sweepstakes, polls and promotions. There are lots of great features including voting (multiple voting rounds possible), winner selection, photo and video contests, friend referrals and you can even run the promotion on Instagram.
- Embed anywhere – You can put your app on your website and it’s also available through a mobile device.
- Very flexible designer – Using the designer, you can start off with one of the main templates (or start off blank) and then add and remove widgets that offer additional functionality.
- Integration – Great integration options to a variety of tools such as Mailchimp, Pinterest, Google Maps, Highrise, Google Analytics and many more.
- Create your own app – If you can code, you can leverage the Shortstack technology and build your own app.
How does it work?
You select from over 100 templates to build your app. When you choose your template, you can then start adding and removing additional widgets for additional functionality.
In the example, below I’ve selected a sweepstakes app. From the widgets on the right-hand side I can easily add more functionality onto the app.
For example, for the competition app above, if I wanted to add the ability to include Facebook comments, I would just select the Facebook comments widget and position it wherever I wanted it to appear on the form.
This widget-based approach is great because there is so much flexibility in what you can do. You could easily create an application that looks quite unique and contains some great features.
There is a wide variety of functionality available, and a really flexible designer that will allow your marketing team (or you!) to go wild with some innovative competitions. Considering the level of functionality provided, the pricing is very good. We’ve only covered a small number of their features here, so check out Shortstack for the full set of customization options.
Agorapulse is a platform for Facebook that focusses on Facebook Page management, CRM, analytics and Facebook applications. It’s an easy-to-use platform and it is competitively priced.
How much will it cost you?
Pricing starts at $29 per month for one page with up to 6,000 fans, and then goes up in tiers to $99 per month for five pages with up to 100,000 fans.
What are the main features?
- Facebook Apps – 13 mobile-optimized apps to choose from including coupons, sweepstakes, photo contests, newsletter signups etc.
- Facebook Page management – Facility to manage all the content on your Facebook Page, including scheduling and assigning tasks to team members.
- Facebook analytics and competitive benchmarking – View detailed analytics on the performance on your Facebook Page and compare your performance with your competitors.
- Facebook CRM functionality – Agorapulse builds up a profile of your fans, based on the interactions on your page and fans’ participation in one of the Facebook apps (e.g. entering a competition). This profiling is really useful to target your fans for specific offers/deals.
How does it work?
When you connect your Facebook account to Agorapulse you start off with a dashboard. Here’s the part of the dashboard that gives you a quick summary of performance.
Below the dashboard you’ll see the following menu options:
- Apps – Access, install, update and view performance of any Facebook apps (all also supported on mobile).
- Posts – View Page posts from you or your fans. Approve, flag, remove or assign to someone in your team for action.
- Comments – View comments from fans or your responses to them. Approve, flag, remove or assign to someone in your team for action.
- Publishing – Publish posts now or schedule them for later, target specific groups for posts.
- Fans – View details of fans, how often they commented, what apps they participated in etc.
- Calendar – View a calendar of previously posted content and the content that is scheduled for publishing.
- Reports – View analytics on your performance for your Facebook page
- Competitors – View competitor benchmarking reports.
There are 13 apps to choose from. They are very simple to set up and each provides graphical templates that are designed for you to use without the need to get your own graphic design done.
One nice feature is the ability to preview. You can preview your app on a desktop or a mobile device before you publish it, and you can test out the application as if it’s live.
Antavo is a platform for Facebook competitions that you can also run on your website. One of Antavo’s main selling points is that it tries to build a profile of your audience, convert your audience to email subscribers and then generate sales through that audience. I really like this because I think an email subscriber is far more valuable than a Facebook fan.
Antavo’s starting price is $25 per month for unlimited subscribers and campaigns, but at this price level there is an Antavo logo in the footer and no ‘like gate’ option (i.e. you can’t force people to become a fan before they enter the competition). For $65 you get the ‘like gate’ option and for $125 there is no branding in the footer or e-mails. At this price there is also the ability to customize the promotion using CSS.
- Availability of Apps – These are available to use on a website (mobile or desktop) and /or Facebook page.
- Apps available – There are 10 applications available including photo and video contests, sweepstakes, essay contest, prezi contest, group deals etc.
- Multi-lingual support – You can choose from 26 different languages when you run your competition.
- Email support – If you run a competition, you can set up a series of e-mails that will automatically be sent out to participants based on certain things happening, such as the competition coming to an end, which is a really useful addition to competitions. You can also save competition participants into different groups and then e-mail them based on their category (e.g. brand advocates, super fans etc).
- Viral rewards – implement a rewards system for fans participating e.g. extra entries to the competition.
How it works
You start off by selecting whether you want launch your app on Facebook, on a website or on a microsite (a website set up specifically for the promotion). You then select the type of application you want to launch, followed by the template you want to base the application on.
Next, you select the language you want the app to be launched in: let’s stick with English for this one!
Across the top of the screen you can see the various steps you would take, to configure it, and on the right are the configuration options for the section you are looking at.
It’s very straight forward to set up. You can personalize it using images and text, and decide on whether to implement features such as the ‘like gate’.
Next, we will skip to a section that is normally found in these applications: the automated emails. Here, you can set up different emails depending on the application. For example, this is an automated email that is sent to any subscriber.
For this video campaign, this was the only possible e-mail I could send, but other campaigns have multiple e-mail options you can use. For example, for a group deal you can automatically send an e-mail saying that the deal is over or that there weren’t enough people to qualify.
I really like this functionality and am looking forward to seeing the next version. It would be great to be able to set up your own series of emails based on individual requirements, and also to have some smart automation that sends the emails according to certain conditions being met.
When you have everything configured you can then preview and launch. At this stage, Antavo begins to collect user information and builds up a profile of the users so you can send further emails to your subscribers.
Pagemodo is a Facebook application platform designed to help you create cover photos, custom tabs, contests and scheduled posts.
How much will it cost you?
There is a free version of PageModo that gives you one custom tab, Facebook and Twitter scheduled posting (one post per day), post suggestions and cover photos. The starting price for the paid version is $6.25 per month for three custom tabs, unlimited scheduled posting, post suggestions and cover photos. As you expand to more pages you will need the $13.25 subscription, or $33.25 if you’re an agency.
What are the main features?
- Ability to change cover photos – You can change the cover photos for your Page or your brand page. Select the template you want to use, change the colors to suit your branding or style, add some images and text, and publish it directly to your Facebook Page.
- Create a custom tab – Select a template, customize the template, ‘like gate’ it (i.e. people have to become a fan to see it) and publish it.
- Contests/Sweepstakes – Create a contest or sweepstake based on a template. Customize in a similar way to creating a custom tab.
- Content promotion – You can schedule content to post on Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin. You can create your own content, search for quotes or other websites’ content based on keywords, and add to it using a library of images.
How does it work?
The processes for creating a cover photo and creating a contest are quite similar. If you are creating a sweepstake, you start off by selecting a theme. You can then modify the colors and select a suitable layout.
Next, you edit and customize the content.
You can see that, on the left hand side, you can easily change the names of the form fields, delete them, configure the thank you message etc. You can also change the titles, images and any text.
Next, you can then specify if you want to ‘like gate’ it and then it is ready to be published.
Pagemodo provides a very simple-to-use system and it’s priced very competitively. The functionality is focussed on sweepstakes and competitions so if you want to go outside of this you’ll need to consider a different provider. It is lacking some of the viral features that other applications have, for example, the ability to earn extra entries if you get your friends to enter.
Offerpop is a social marketing platform that provides hashtag and user-generated campaigns, contests, promotions and social commerce solutions.
Pricing is custom based on the features you want.
- Hashtag and user-generated content campaigns – Run contests/competitions where users submit user-generated content (e.g. photos/videos) in a voting competition. A hashtag is used to encourage cross-platform activity.
- Select from a suite of 16 applications – A wide variety of applications are available including photo contests, video contests, deals, caption contests, quizzes and polls.
- User ‘look book’ to promote sales – Look book allows you to set up a scrollable list of products with customized calls to action on each image. For example, offer a coupon code for each product.
- Competition apps for multiple platforms – Facebook has the largest group of apps but there are also apps available for Twitter, Instagram and Vine.
How it works
Here is an example of the tug-of war application. You upload 2 images and then ask people to vote on the images.
You then configure the voting options and, if you want, there are some additional advanced options that you can configure:
Here is an explanation of some of the options:
- Enable assured voting – Only people who have a Facebook ID can vote.
- Collect email addresses – After people vote, you can collect their email addresses so you can market to them in the future.
- Make this a video showdown – Allow people to vote on videos.
Offerpop provides a range of apps across different platforms that work well together. If you are looking for competitions on more than just Facebook, Offerpop is an interesting choice.
Rafflecopter is a Facebook contest application that is simple to set up and has some great viral features that ensures you maximize the value from running the competition.
Pricing starts at $7.99 with Rafflecopter branding displayed on the app. The next price is $59.99 which has email integration with a variety of providers, and a viral refer-a-friend feature. Users choosing this price band will also find that their competitions display no Rafflecopter branding.
- Integration with email providers – Aweber, Mailchimp, Constant Contact.
- Viral features for more sharing and entries – You can award competition entrants with more entries to the competition if they take a configured action, such as sharing to social media, signing up with their e-mail address etc.
- Real-time analytics – While the competition is running, you can view analytics in real time to see how well the competition is doing.
- Embed the widget – As well as running the competition on your Facebook page, you can also embed this widget on your website.
- Mobile compatible – It also supports mobile, but you must share a special link.
How it works
What’s really nice about Rafflecopter is its simplicity. You can have your competition up and running in a couple of minutes! There is just one single page to fill out where you include the name and prize, how to enter, terms of conditions, dates of competition and specify a way of entering the competition.
People can enter the competition by commenting on a blog post, subscribing to an e-mail list, becoming a fan and other options. But what’s really nice is that you can award people extra entries to the competition based on the actions they take: if they subscribe to a mailing list you can give them 2 extra entries to the competition, or if they share the competition with their fans you can award them one extra entry, for instance.
This viral mechanism for encouraging sharing is really effective. We know because we recently ran a competition in which we used it!
If you want to get a competition up and running within a couple of minutes and you don’t want the hassle of creating any graphics then Rafflecopter is a great option. Their refer-a-friend and sharing mechanisms built into the app make it really useful.
Tabsite started off as a Facebook app tool but it has recently added on support for Pinterest and Instagram.
There is a free version (supported by ads), followed by a $10 a month version and then $19 or $30. The top price of $30 per month is very reasonable, considering all the features that are included.
- Language customizable Facebook apps.
- Broad selection of Apps – 24 apps to choose from (mainly Facebook)
- Functionality broken down into widgets – There are many widgets available which are pieces of functionality you can add to the apps. This gives great flexibility. For example, there is a countdown widget you can add to your apps.
- Platform tools – There are a good selection of tools available to support functionality provided. For example, there is a page viewer to view functionality before it is deployed.
How it works
When you login to the management centre, you select the type of app that you want. You can go for Engagement Apps, which offer a user-friendly way to build your app, or you can have more control using their Drag N Build section.
Here’s what you will see when you start creating the app. There are lots of configuration options available, so a good deal of flexibility is provided right out of the box.
There is a suite of widgets you can use to add on to existing functionality and they are added using drag and drop.
Tabsite is competitively priced and provides lots of flexibility in terms of the configuration of each of the widgets. There is a broad range of functionality to choose from.
8. Engage Sciences – One for the Enterprises
Engage Sciences is a platform to create social marketing programs that engage and grow your followers and fans. It segments your users so that you can target particular groups for campaigns, and they provide many applications that are easy to set up and configure for this purpose. With a small percentage of your fans typically driving a large percentage of your referrals, this is a segment that is particularly important to work with.
The starting price is $1,500 per month. See this link for more information on pricing.
- Amplify – Search and curate content from social media and publish this content to apps or your website.
- Engage – Use one of their highly customizable apps to launch campaigns to increase engagement and fans.
- Profile – Build up profiles of your followers and segment them.
- Reward – Encourage participation in social campaigns with badges, points and levels and provide rewards.
How it works
The functionality is based on the four main features outlined above.
Amplify – This is where you curate content from a variety of social networks and then add it to your website, microsite, Facebook Page etc. This gives you a fresh stream of user-generated content that you can share out to your web audience.
Engage – You can answer/interact with fan updates or create a selection of applications to run on your website or Facebook Page. This is all done through Engage Sciences’ management centre.
Profile – As your fans interact, all information is recorded and a full profile of the fans is built up. For example, in the following screenshot you can see that fans are broken down after being categorized as Brand Advocates, Super Fans, Referrers etc.
Reward – Through this module you can implement reward programs for your clients.
EngageSciences has an impressive suite of functionality that is suitable for larger enterprise customers.
There is a wide variety of social media marketing tools in this space, so pricing tends to be very competitive. Competitions are great for building engagement with your fans, and also for attracting new fans and followers.
There are many tools in this category, so this is just a sample of some really useful ones. You may decide to use different applications for different purposes or you could pick one that has a wide variety of features and use this on an ongoing basis. Either way, you should consider kicking off at least one competition and see how it works for you!
a). Leaving a comment and sharing your experiences, we’d love to hear from you.
b). Sharing out this post.
c). Starting to use one of the tools!!