How our agency created efficiency by adopting a new social media management platform.
By: Brooke Tannehill, Summer 2018 Intern, Clemson University
With the growth of social media and the explosion in new content being created daily, it is important not only to be social media savvy but also judicious with your time. Social media managers have to allocate their time wisely creating content, navigating multiple platforms, and posting on their accounts in an efficient and productive way.
“Work smarter, not harder.”
Work smarter, not harder is a great saying to keep in mind while managing your social media in 2018. After years of managing our own and our clients’ social media accounts manually (in each native platform) or by logging into an individual client-initiated social media management platform (usually the free version of Hootsuite), we determined that we needed a more comprehensive tool to manage all of these accounts.
Our goal was to adopt a new system to improve efficiency, streamline social media content creation, and improve visibility and collaboration across the company. Social media marketing platforms enable our team to engage with our audience across multiple channels from one place.
Platforms that allow a company to schedule and post updates to any page or profile for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, WordPress, and other platforms from one place are at the forefront of this industry. With a robust free account option, Hootsuite is the standard tool for many companies who only needed to manage a few accounts; but since our business manages social media for a portfolio of clients, the inefficiencies of these individual free accounts were many. One option was to upgrade to a more robust level of paid Hootsuite, but that was going to be very expensive.
Luckily, we quickly found a number of competitors to Hootsuite, with lower price points and more functionality.
Our requirements that we used to identify viable platforms included number of users, number of social channels allowed, ability to grant client access, ability to manage subordinate users, image control, content generation, social listening and cost. Based on our cost-benefit analysis with several platforms, we decided to “test drive” Agorapulse, Sendible, Social Draft, and Socialpilot. While there are many others out there, these four seemed to be the best suited to our needs.
We initiated free trial runs with all four of the platforms simultaneously, which was perhaps a complicated way of doing it. We’d get confused about which social profiles we had in which platform, and granting permissions was a comedy of errors. We intentionally blocked staff time for this exercise, but for others contemplating this approach, note that test driving multiple systems will take many hours in set-up time and initial trial and error time.
In the first week we were able to eliminate Socialpilot and Social Draft; Socialpilot was dropped because it did not have direct posting to Instagram which was a critical system requirement. Many systems were only rolling out the new Instagram business account features, so it is entirely possible that this is no longer an issue. Social Draft was rejected because we had a stronger preference for the user interfaces of AgoraPulse and Sendible.
None of the platforms we test drove were perfect, and we weighed the pros and cons of using each (mostly a subjective analysis.) For example, one member of our team really likes Agorapulse’s interface and photo error feature while others prefer Sendible’s color coding and easy-to-use calendar feature. We don’t love the error notifications in Sendible, but found that the reporting functionality was far superior and more than made up for the clunky mystery image errors. Sendible also has an integration with google analytics which will show clients how social media is driving traffic to their sites.The icing on the cake for Sendible is the content curation functionality; although limited, that functionality didn’t exist in Agorapulse. There were other applications that had even superior content curation functionality, but fell down on the user interface or other important features.
Overall we like this application, but it can be unintuitive to get all of the various social accounts loaded with appropriate permissions. There are some slightly annoying redundancies but this is only an issue at set-up. Once we figured it out, we were smooth sailing.
As previously mentioned, the system doesn’t flag issues with images until they are due to post – and then users get an error email and alert in the application itself. The friendly folks at Sendible walked us through integrating Canva so that we can mitigate image issues, but the jury is still out on how that will work in the long run.
OUR ADVICE ON SELECTING A SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGEMENT PLATFORM
Different platforms work for different types of agencies, groups, and individuals and it really helps to know what exactly you’re looking for in a platform before you start paying for it! Even those that offered an initial 7-day trial were very friendly to extend it upon request. We asked questions of the various vendors, and kept track of our internal pros and cons as we did our test drives. Ask yourself, who needs to be involved in the test drives? We made sure everyone on our team who manages any social accounts at all were involved; and we had to weigh how our clients would ultimately fare with what we adopted.
Sendible has already helped our small social media management team get our job done quicker and better. We love Sendible’s all-in-one application for social media engagement, social media listening, content generation and reporting. However, being the business skeptics that we are, we are doing a month to month payment plan so we can ensure the platform works for us and our clients before making the larger (though discounted) investment for a longer subscription.
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