Software makes the world turn, these days. You can’t live your life without software in some form or another. Anything you do has some form of software attached. Wake up in the morning to an alarm programmed via software. Make coffee with a machine powered by software. Get in your car and drive to work, while software logs errors with your car and monitors emissions. Stop at traffic lights told to change colors by software. It’s software all the way down.
As much as software often seems to make our lives harder, it also makes them easier in innumerable ways. If you’re running a small business, and you have a Facebook page, to use a common and widely relatable example, software can ease the amount of time and energy you spend performing everyday tasks. Marketing, automation, analytics, and other applications all give you more power to do more things with less time and less effort.
To that end, I’ve compiled a list of some of the best marketing tools for Facebook available.
These applications are all geared towards automating certain aspects of your social presence. There’s only so much you should automate, however, so be cautious about the programs you use and how you use them. A huge part of social media is the engagement, communication and social aspects of the platform. Automation takes away from that by posting your content and your messages when you’re not available. If your page looks like a robot runs it, no one will follow it or care.
- SimplyCast – This tools allows you to build up a library of posts to schedule throughout the future, while not restricting your ability to post right away as the need arises. It also has a fairly robust autoresponder with a flowchart for what to do and when, but I don’t recommend using it for Facebook posts. It’s fine for email follow-ups, though.
- IFTTT – This acronym stands for If This Then That, and it takes the basic programmatic logic and applies it to a whole host of different processes you can use with social accounts, and a whole lot more. Use it to make a tweet appear each time you post a new blog update, for example. That’s just one really simple example of what you can do with the very robust engine full of inputs and outputs.
- SocialDraft – This tool combines analytics with a social calendar to give you insights into your posts, your scheduling, and your engagement. Most importantly, it tracks your top influencers and accumulates a bunch of information about them, including their followers on various social networks and their engagement statistics with you and your accounts.
- Mr. Social (Possibly Dead) – Unfortunately, this website stopped loading as of October 2016, but please let us know if it comes back online. This automation tool is unique within the industry. It’s essentially a combination of a search engine and a social curation, aggregation and scheduling platform. Run searches for content and the app will pull up a ton of content, which you can schedule as reposts or shares on your page with just a few clicks. Use it to easily supplement your feed with curated content to make your site the place to be.
- Dlvr.it – Keeping with the Web4.0 tend of businesses that forgot vowels existed, this program has one purpose; it takes data from your RSS feed and “delivers it” to your social accounts, via customized but formulaic posts. My only gripe is that it doesn’t have an optional mode to strip vowels from your content before it goes live.
These applications are all focused on analytics, either enhancing the existing Facebook Insights tools, or expanding upon them and linking them with other forms of analytics. You might have to go out of your way to link to your site through Facebook in order to take advantage of them, but you’ll likely be able to access data you can’t get through Facebook alone.
- CrowdBooster – This suite of analytics software allows you to set up campaigns and specific goals both within and without of the framework you may be familiar with from Google Analytics or Facebook Insights. It tracks all of the relevant data once you set it up, so you can see how your campaigns are performing on a cross-platform basis, without needing to unify data across multiple different analytics applications.
- Simply Measured – Many of the tools on this list include analytics, but few focus entirely on that spectrum of measurement. SM is one such program, and as such, it has a huge amount of functionality and appeal that other apps don’t get. Where other programs are wasting time with other features, Simply Measured is improving data analysis and reporting to a extreme degree.
- Quintly – This program is a deep analytics suite for most of the major social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Google+. You can combine analytics for several profiles on the same site on one dashboard, as well. There’s a limit on the number of profiles you can use at once, but that’s true for pretty much every program on this list.
- Cyfe – Cyfe is unique in that, rather than being a tool itself, it’s more of a centralized platform for data coming in from other tools. You can use it with Google Analytics, Facebook Insights an other analytics programs, plus you can use it with other third party data streams.
- Beevolve – Though oddly lacking in apis branding, this suite of buzz-worthy analytics has one thing on its hive-mind; honey. I mean, money. It’s social media analytics with reporting geared expressly towards tracking monetary expenses and returns, solely to calculate ROI for your social marketing.
These applications are designed to help you manage multiple social profiles at the same time. It might be a traditional Facebook page, a Twitter account, a Twitter customer service account and a Google+ page. It might be a host of other sites, or just Facebook and your blog in one place. There are a lot of options here.
- SocialOomph – This program gives you a whole bunch of features geared towards unifying your social presence all in one place. Most of it focuses on Twitter automation, including autoresponses and autofollows, but those aren’t the most useful parts. It also gives you a lot of scheduling and cross-account management options for Facebook pages, groups, and profiles.
- MavSocial – This is a relatively generic social publishing platform, but it does have one awesome thing going for it; a huge library of over 70 million royalty free images, from illustrations to stock photos. You’ll never need to use a stock photo site again.
- Sociota – This particular piece of software is geared more for larger businesses and teams than for small businesses. It helps you run a huge number of profiles, complete with a ton of features for managing groups of profiles at once. Also included are profile scoring, RSS, follower and post management services.
- SumAll – As the Sum of All of your social marketing, this program accumulates data for a wide variety of social profiles, including analytics, posting features, reports, and audience boosting options. The latter few are, of course, paid tools.
- Tailwind – This one by rights shouldn’t be on the list, but it’s worth mentioning as one of the only social dashboards that allows you to post to Pinterest. Very few of the traditional apps allow Pinterest as one of the profiles you can use, because it’s so different from other traditional social profiles.
These applications give you social listening functionality, which allows you to see when your brand is being mentioned. Some of them will also give you sentiment analysis, which helps you understand whether those mentions are positive, neutral or negative. Social listening is more useful on Twitter, where you can find and respond to comments made without a direct tag or @mention, but it’s useful for Facebook as well.
- SocialFlow – This app unifies all of the communications channels across your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other site accounts, all in one place. It pulls in messages, allows you to follow conversation chains, and gives you the ability to quickly and easily respond both with form letters, customized forms and personalized messages. On top of that, it streamlines your messaging for public posts to make sure they reach the right people most often.
- SproutSocial – The primary function of this program is to pull all of the messaging channels from your social media and email accounts into one dashboard, where you can create profiles for individual customers automatically and compile their communications across different profiles all in one place. It does this using smart algorithms, to avoid cross-contamination and misidentified users. Of course, it also gives you all of the options to respond through whichever platform you deem best.
- Komfo – This application could honestly count under many of the different categories on this list, but I add it here because it has a fairly robust set of social listening tools. The fact that they link seamlessly into the analytics and distribution tools is just a fringe benefit. They are pretty good analytics, at least, though they aren’t top of the line necessarily.
- Reachpod (Dead, unfortunately, as of Feb 2018) – This piece of software combines a lot of social listening tools and communication aggregation in one place. Everything is on a customizable dashboard, from feeds to inboxes to individual posts. You can also use “sentimental tagging” to flag certain users so you can follow them from site to site and from post to post.
- Social Mention – This is something of an honorable mention on the list, because it’s not a stand-alone piece of software you can use. Instead, it’s a web tool that performs a trend and news search for various keywords and gives you general sentiment for each post about it.
Tab App Creators
Facebook has moved tab apps around a lot in the last few years, and they have lost a lot of prominence. Gone are the days when you could make a customized Facebook landing page using a tab app. However, you can still provide some pretty great functionality for Facebook by using tab apps. Run contests, provide information, give an avenue to contact customer service, and more.
- The Facebook Developer Program – Perhaps the simplest option, but also one of the least user-friendly, you can just use Facebook itself to generate your apps. The problem here is that you need to have at least some app development experience, or a lot of time to invest in the system. The other options in this section are much more guided, drag-and-drop solutions, and are thus much easier to use as a small business strapped for resources.
- PageModo – This app creator is one of the easiest to use, but it’s also more focused on certain types of apps over others. You can finagle it into doing just about anything, but if you’re looking for a lead generation app, you’ve definitely come to the right place.
- WooBox – Currently one of the most popular contest apps online, WooBox has one additional feature I love; it allows your app to be platform-agnostic. You can post it on Facebook, on Twitter, on your website, and anywhere else. It also allows you to set engagement for each of those platforms as an entry method, so a user can gain entries to the same contest through the same app for sharing a Facebook post, retweeting a tweet, favoriting a post, following an account, and much more.
- TabSite – If you’re looking for a tool to create tabs for your site, something as appropriately named as TabSite can’t really be ignored, can it? They let you make contest apps, coupon apps, photo apps and a whole lot more. They don’t have a free version, but they do offer free trials for two weeks for any of their plans.
- ShortStack – This tool allows you to create tab apps for free, but has a charge for reaching beyond a certain amount of traffic in a given 30-day period. It does brand your apps with the ShortStack logo for the free version, which can be unfortunate, but no one will fault you for using a free tool when you’re a small business. You have up to 5,000 visits, 25 leads, and 25,000 fans per month with the free plan and it scales up from there.
General Tools and Platforms
These applications do it all. There’s something of a problem with feature creep in many social media marketing tools these days, so a lot of tools could be shoved into this category. You might notice how, despite having a dedicated analytics section, most of the other pieces of software on the list have at least some basic analytics added on. That’s what happens for most apps; they add features until they’re well-rounded platforms, even if they started as narrow tools.
- Cision – This is one of the biggest examples of what I mean by feature creep. Argyle Social started out as a social analytics platform, where it was purchased by ViralHeat, which itself was then purchased and rolled into Cision. So, what was once a simple analytics suite has become one part of this huge bundle of applications ranging from PR to social marketing to global analytics. It has a little bit of everything, but might at this point be beyond the scope of small business marketers.
- Rignite – This tool is an end-to-end solution for running social campaigns across many different platforms, with analytics, scheduling, collaboration and reporting all factored in. It may not be the biggest name, and it may not have all of the best features, but it’s quick and easy to set up and it handles up to 30 social profiles with the cheapest tier, something you don’t see with many of the other platforms.
- Buffer – Buffer is one of the biggest competitors in the general social media management scene, and their blog is out of this world when it comes to social marketing value. Not only is their tool awesome, but they teach you a lot too! Buffer shines as a content aggregator and curator, as well as a post schedule, analytics platform and account manager.
- Hootsuite – Hootsuite has too many features for it to not be on this list somewhere. It’s one of the main go-to platforms for anything social media related, from message aggregation to post scheduling to sentiment analysis. Anything it can’t do right off the bat, it can do with a few extensions or applets installed. It even has a free plan, though it is of course somewhat limited in what it can do and how many profiles it supports.
- Shoutlet – I’m putting this one here because it really does all of the above. It does content publishing, it does team collaboration, it does message indexing and responding, and it has a ton of analytics attached. Pretty much anything you could want to do with Facebook marketing can be done with this platform. Give it a try and see what a truly powerful system can do for you.