Social Media Blogs by Aliza Sherman
Aliza Sherman is a web pioneer, author, and international speaker. Sherman is the author of 8 books about the Internet including The Everything Blogging Book, Streetwise Ecommerce, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Crowdsourcing and Social Media Engagement for Dummies.

5 Social Media Marketing Tools You Need

5 Social Media Marketing Tools You Need

Social media marketing involves planning, producing, scheduling, and posting content online as well as monitoring, responding, and measuring. Finding the right tools to help you perform these various tasks can save time in the short term and money in the long run.

Here are five types of tools you need to perform the most common social media marketing tasks.

1. Planning Tools

One way to maximize your time and resources when engaging in social media marketing is to plan ahead. If you think of publishing to social networks as being similar to any other type of publishing, you should be using an editorial calendar of some kind to map out your daily, weekly, and monthly messaging.

In traditional publishing, this kind of planning is typically done three to six months in advance. Even planning ahead for the next month can free up your time to focus on operating your business.

Planning tools usually provide a calendar-style interface to make it easier to visualize upcoming posts. A planning tool can be included within a social network such as the Planner in Meta’s Business Suite (Facebook). They can also be bundled within a social media dashboard such as Sprout Social or Hootsuite.

There are also some third-party tools like Planoly that help you plan out the full visual look of your Instagram page that lets you drag and drop the posts around to help create a pleasing aesthetic. Planoly now functions more like a social media dashboard, expanding beyond Instagram planning to include Pinterest, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

2. Design Tools

If you are not a graphic designer or videographer, designing visuals for social media can feel daunting. Luckily, there are design tools available online that can help you easily produce attractive and effective visuals for your social media marketing.

Some basic design and editing tools are built into popular social networks. For example, you can edit photos on Facebook and Twitter. Instagram offers more visual editing tools including filters. You can also do minimal video editing on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram including trimming clips. TikTok and YouTube offer additional video editing tools.

If you have some design skills, software such as Adobe Photoshop can be useful. But if your skills as a designer are limited, a tool such as Canva can be a lifesaver. Canva provides design templates you can use or modify for many different occasions and uses. Whether you’re producing a static or animated post graphic or a short promotional video, a tool like Canva can make it easier to produce professional-looking visuals tailored for each major social network.

3. Scheduling and Posting Tools

If you are posting regularly to your social media accounts, and particularly if you are managing several accounts, using a tool that can help you manage the content you schedule and publish can save you time. There are a number of ways that you can schedule posts depending on the social network.

Facebook and Instagram have a post planner in the Meta Business Suite where you can schedule posts to release on a future date for both platforms. On Twitter, you can click the calendar icon to schedule your post or use TweetDeck, a Twitter-owned platform, to handle scheduling and posting, especially handy if you have multiple Twitter accounts.

Other apps and tools like Buffer, Hootsuite, and Sprout Social let you schedule your posts across multiple social networks. They also have a queue feature where you can set up a regular publishing schedule and then line up posts to automatically publish at set intervals. These platforms also offer a "best time to post" feature where you can allow the service to automate the scheduling process to publish at optimal times based on user trends.

4. Monitoring and Managing Tools

While content creation can take up a lot of time, keeping an eye on your social media accounts can be even more time-consuming. Social media dashboards like Hootsuite and Sprout Social streamline monitoring comments from users. The more robust the tool, the more features they offer to help you manage the process of responding to incoming messages.

If you’re managing everything yourself, look for a dashboard tool that helps you oversee the daily conversations happening on your social media accounts so you can check them easily and respond promptly. If you have additional team members assisting you, find a dashboard tool that lets multiple people access it and where you can make assignments to delegate social media management tasks.

5. Measurement Tools

Measuring how effective your social media marketing efforts are can be daunting. Each social network offers its own set of analytics or insights, often using different metrics using different terms and definitions. To consolidate your metrics and get more of an "apples to apples" view of the numbers, use social media dashboard tools like Hootsuite or Sprout Social. While there is still value in pulling individual numbers from each social network such as the Meta Business Suite insights for Facebook and Instagram and Twitter’s analytics, a social media dashboard will provide individual and combined views of the numbers with clear, easy-to-understand reports.

As you can see, there are a number of activities involved in social media marketing and corresponding tools that can make those tasks easier. Ultimately, a social media dashboard can handle many of those tasks in one tool to help you be more efficient in your efforts.

Read other social media blogs by Aliza Sherman