A beginner’s guide to social media marketing tools

The right tools make a big difference.

And without the right tools, your social media marketing strategy may fall flat before given the chance.

Good social media marketing can transform the success of your brand. But without an arsenal of specific, powerful tools that align to your organization’s goals, you can’t create or share valuable content, or attract new audiences or drive meaningful engagement.

The list of marketers’ responsibilities never stops growing. Luckily, we’re doing a detailed breakdown of what you should be looking for in each social marketing solution, so you don’t have to. Let’s dive in.

Looking for something specific? Use these links to jump to the section that fits your needs.

  1. What are social media marketing tools?
  2. Do you need social marketing tools?
  3. What should you look for in a social marketing tool?
  4. List of social media marketing tools.

What are social media marketing tools?

Social media marketing tools are the features and functionalities that help individuals manage their brand’s social presence.

How do they differ from social media management tools? Think of social media management tools as holistic solutions, and social media marketing tools as specialized solutions.

Social media management tools are big-picture platforms that can typically do it all: Curate, publish, analyze, report. They exist to manage your social accounts all in one place.

But a social media marketing tool focuses on one pain point for marketers and delivers just that solution. These tools are about creating and executing your strategy.

Canva, for example, is a great social marketing tool for making graphic design simple and accessible for marketing teams of any size. Or BuzzSumo, which helps marketers find and curate content to share across their social networks.

Do you need social marketing tools?

Of course!

As social media platforms continue to rapidly evolve, they’re transforming the way we connect. Every update gifts brands with new features to amplify their message, and for the people that love those brands to respond in meaningful ways.

Social marketing tools make engaging in this environment easy and efficient, as well as giving you capabilities the native social platforms can’t. Good social marketing tools not only help you find content to share, schedule posts or optimize campaigns, they give you actionable insights you can use to improve your overall social presence. You can’t dominate social without a few clutch tools.

What should you look for in a social marketing tool?

What should the best social media marketing tools be able to do for you?

Scheduling

What you’re looking for

There are several different types of social media scheduling tools available on the market for everything from composing posts to content curation to queuing and organizing. But all of them have one common goal: Save time.

Every marketer knows that jumping back and forth between networks is a time-drain. Reclaim your time, not to mention your sanity, by seeking out interactive tools—think calendars with features like asset management libraries, tools that automatically curate relevant content in your feed, and social publishing that not only allows you to prep photos, captions or hashtags, but helps you optimize them with suggestions for best times to post based on aggregate audience data.

Example workflows

  • Queue and publish the same post across multiple profiles in one step.
  • Plan and organize all of your social content with the help of a dynamic calendar.

Monitoring vs. Listening

What you’re looking for

Social monitoring is often used interchangeably with social listening, which only does a disservice to the respective value of each method.

Social media monitoring tools help with the “what” vs. the “why” of listening. Think of it as the searching and collecting stage gathering of data from social conversations that will help you better understand your understand your audience and improve how you engage with them.

Social media listening tools help with the second phase, where you’re able to analyze and provide actionable responses to the insights you’ve collected through monitoring, using more advanced features. Together, these tools help you meet higher standards for your customers and improve overall brand health.

When looking for a tool, remember that monitoring is not an alternative to Enterprise-level listening tools. So first assess your needs: If you’re starting out and your immediate needs can be met with a tool that will help you track social media mentions, stick with reactive monitoring tools to avoid being overwhelmed by the full capabilities of a listening suite. If you’re looking to dive deep into customer sentiment and drive change in the way you understand your audience, a listening tool’s proactive nature will cover those needs and more.

It all depends on your business goals at hand, but any marketer will tell you that monitoring and listening tools in tandem is the way to go.

Example workflows

Care for your customers by monitoring your social networks for messages that are directly related to your brand, then responding to those messages appropriately.
Monitor your brand’s social media platforms for customer feedback, direct mentions of your brand and discussions regarding related keywords, topics, competitors or industries. Follow up with an analysis of the data to create a plan to act on opportunities you surface.

Automation

What you’re looking for

The trick to helpful automated marketing is not relying too heavily the automated tools to do what a human should, but rather to identify the repetitive tasks that can be automated without compromising the user experience. That will free you, the human, up to handle the more challenging or sensitive items.

It’s a common misconception that automation tools are meant to make the social marketing process a hands-off experience. But that’s not true. They’ll certainly save you time and effort, but they won’t replace the marketer’s brain behind the brawn.

To start out, consider integrating automation tools like social media chatbots into your social marketing strategy, to streamline customer service across Facebook and Twitter. With a bot, you can quickly create logic-based replies to your customers’ most frequently asked questions.

Example workflows

  • Set a bot up to act as a digital concierge, allowing customers to take a variety of actions without having to leave the native messenger for one seamless user-experience.
  • For a less elaborate experience, set a bot up to highlight all of your key services in a one-pager response to encourage your best forms of service when a representative isn’t able to connect.

Engagement

What you’re looking for

Engagement tools are the nucleus of your brand’s visibility, responsiveness and efficiency. With every instant, consistent interaction with your customers on social, you’re building loyalty.

Consider seeking out collaborative tools, like review management systems for customer comments, task management and tagging. The more organized your incoming customer messages are in the backend, the more seamless a user-experience you’re creating on the front-end.

Example workflows

  • Tag team a busy social media inbox with team members and avoid overlap while you work toward inbox zero with tasking capabilities.
  • Approve content and prioritize messages using permissions tailored to your team.

Analytics & reporting

What you’re looking for

If your data is off, your social strategy is off.

Whether you’re tracking Facebook impressions, tallying up Twitter click-throughs, measuring follower growth on Instagram or evaluating your LinkedIn engagement—you can’t get the full picture of your efforts without the tools to analyze each piece of the puzzle.

A dashboard for centralized social analytics is key to a cleaner big picture. Other key features to look out for when you’re on the hunt for the right social media analytics tools are competitive insights, access to historical data and proper API access, smart reporting and data exporting.

Analytics is just one part of the equation when measuring social performance. Seek out tools that allow you to pull quick, organized and shareable reports, consolidating all the numbers you’d otherwise crunch manually into ready documents. Get your data in front of the right people, strengthening social’s influence in your organization.

Example workflows

  • Compare your social performance to your competitors’ and find new opportunities to engage.
  • Filter historical data to quickly and easily benchmark results and inform your social strategy moving forward.

Targeted solutions, broader business

When done right, social media marketing can bring remarkable success to your brand. With the right tools, you can create, curate, publish, schedule, analyze and so much more. And all of that doesn’t only amount to more efficient work, it means bigger business—attracting new audiences, driving brand awareness and increasing engagement.

Ready to dominate the social landscape? Start filling your arsenal with the right tools.

List of social media marketing tools

We have written at length about the various types of social media marketing tools across several of the blog posts referenced here. You can find lists of tools based on your specific needs at the below links.

Instagram Tools

Looking for the best apps to edit photos before sharing them with your audience? Or maybe you need data on how well your campaigns are performing. Having the right Instagram tools handy makes it easier to engage with your audience, create better content and analyze your efforts.

Instagram Analytics Tools

It’s time to do a deep dive into what is and isn’t working for your brand on Instagram. Brands know they need Instagram, but how do they measure and make sure the platform works? Use these seven Instagram analytics tools to measure engagement, audience growth, hashtag stats and more.

9 Instagram analytics tools to master performance

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Tools for Creating Instagram Content

Engaging your audience at a glance with eye-catching images is key to Instagram success. Master every element of producing great-looking visuals for Instagram with these apps for every situation.

25 Instagram Apps for Producing Must-See Content

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Twitter Tools

Plenty of Twitter tools have come and gone over the years. So how do you know what software is worth investing your time and money? These roundups will give you plenty of reliable and proven marketing tools for Twitter so every piece of your strategy is valued.

Tools to Manage Your Twitter Marketing

Tired of buying Twitter tools you only use for a week? Bad software wastes time and money–even if the tool is free. We’ve compiled a list of 10 great tools for everything from scheduling Tweets, running Twitter Chats, automating processes and more.

8 Twitter tools to complement your social media marketing

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Tools to Analyze Your Twitter Efforts

Which Tweets get the most engagement? What’s the age range of your audience? Who’s liking and Retweeting you the most? Use the tools in this list to answer all these questions and never be left in the dark about your Twitter analytics again.

Twitter analytics: 6 tools to amplify your Twitter strategy

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Facebook Tools

If Facebook is a part of your social media strategy, you’ll want to make sure your marketing tool belt is stocked. From everything you need for publishing content, engaging with your audience and analyzing your results, these tools will help you transform your Facebook strategy.

Tools to Boost Facebook Engagement

With all the algorithm changes, figuring out how to boost Facebook engagement is a priority for every social media marketer. Use these tools to plan, execute and analyze the perfect Facebook marketing strategy.

13 Facebook Tools Marketers Use to Boost Engagement

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Build Your Own Facebook Dashboard

A Facebook dashboard is the central hub for your data and analytics. Read through this guide to learn why a dashboard is so important, which metrics to include and the tools you need to build your own.

How to Build the Perfect Facebook Dashboard

A lot of Facebook marketers fall into one of two categories. Either you spend too much time on reporting, or… Read More

General Social Media Tools

In this section, we’ll cover some great marketing tools that aren’t specific to any social network. These tools range from scheduling content, social media monitoring, performing competitive analysis and more. Get a holistic view of your efforts and check out these best marketing tools.

Social Media Analytics Tools

Want to analyze a recent influencer marketing campaign? Or maybe you want to check out how much engagement a recent Twitter giveaway received. Whatever you want to track, these eight social media analytics tools have you covered.

10 of the best social media analytics tools for marketers

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Social Media Monitoring Tools

Did you know that 89% of messages sent to brands go ignored? You risk losing a customer with every incoming message you miss. Stay on top of every brand mention on social media with these 12 must-have social media monitoring tools.

12 Must-Have Social Media Monitoring Tools for a Better ROI

So many metrics, so little time. Measuring your social presence in 2018 is about so much more than likes and… Read More

Social Competitive Analysis Tools

Want to find out what your competitors are doing to grow their audience and build engagement? Use these 13 competitive analysis tools to spy on the competition and gain insight into the tactics you could be missing out on.

13 Competitor Analysis Tools to Spy on Your Competition

Let’s talk about a subject that’s honestly a bit uncomfortable to some marketers. Competition. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re… Read More

Social Media Management Tools

Take a look at our roundup of 18 of the best social media tools for every aspect of your social media marketing strategy.

9 essential social media management tools for marketers

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Social Media Scheduling Tools

Why spend time manually Tweeting or posting to Instagram every day? Use these social media scheduling tools to save time and plan your calendar in advance.

8 top social media scheduling tools to save time in 2019

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Content Tools

Content is the lifeblood of social media. If you don’t create and share content that truly resonates with your audience, your social media marketing efforts will short-lived at best. Check out these tools to create quality content for any medium.

Every Content Marketing Tool You Need

Dig into this huge list of content marketing tools and resources to make every aspect of content marketing easier for your brand. This list includes tools for content ideation, creation, distribution and analysis.

180 Content Marketing Tools & Resources to Bookmark

In the early days, a lot of companies looked at content marketing as just another word for blogging. Today we… Read More

Tools to Create Eye-Catching Visuals

Social media has become extremely visual over the years. Just Tweeting links to articles or posting text updates on Facebook aren’t enough to capture the attention of your audience. Use these tools to create eye-catching visuals for social media.

39 Free Tools for Creating Unique Images

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Other Must-Have Marketing Tools

Social media shouldn’t be looked at in a silo. An effective social media strategy incorporates other facets of marketing from email, to SEO, content and more. Getting familiar with some of these additional tools can help you become a better and more efficient marketer overall.

Email Marketing Tools to Reach Your Audience

Use these email marketing tools to amplify your brand’s content beyond social media. These tools will allow you to run highly targeted and segmented marketing campaigns, that can also be combined with what you’re doing on social.

10 Free Email Marketing Tools to Save You Time and Money

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Tools to Stay Organized & On-Track

Keep your entire marketing organization aligned and organized with these project management tools. Whether it’s setting due dates, assigning tasks or making it easy for your team to collaborate, project management tools are a must for brands preventing bootle-necking and poor efficiencies.

Project management tools for social media managers

If you’re like the average social media manager, you’ve got a suite of skills and a set of projects… Read More

Tools For the Entire Marketing Team

Equip your entire marketing team with the tools they need to perform their job at the highest level. This list of digital marketing tools covers social media, paid ads, SEO, video and everything in between.

41 Must-Have Digital Marketing Tools to Help You Grow

Not to be dramatic, but digital marketers today live and die by the tools of the trade. Modern marketers are… Read More

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