Social media management tools are vital to running a successful business social media platform. Those tools are where companies can monitor how the general public feels without conducting a focus group. These management platforms “are aimed at maximizing search engine optimization along with increasing inbound traffic, customer satisfaction, and customer conversion.” There are many tools available, such as Agora Pulse, Buffer, Social Pilot, and TweetDeck that can assist with community management and social listening.
Community management and social listening are just as they sound. Companies able to steer the discussion the right way with both of these concepts. Organizations can use these platforms to create two-way conversations between the consumers and themselves. I liken community management to a teacher watching her students at recess — she floats around to make sure things are OK, and doesn’t assert herself unless she needs to. Social listening “can help organizations get the full picture of an audience’s sentiment, discover what they are searching for or reading about, and understand how they feel about your brand or competitors.”
I don’t really use social media management tools, but I have been researching — and I admire Hootsuite and Sprout Social for their ability to assist companies with community management, social listening and sentiment analysis. With sentiment analysis, companies are able to gauge an audience’s feelings toward a product, the company itself, or something related to the company.
In my opinion, Hootsuite was the pioneer in social media management. This was the first tool I knew about because it specializes in sentiment and audience analysis. Through its free version, users are able to “set up social media streams that monitor conversations, keywords, mentions, and hashtags.”
With Hootsuite, companies have the ability to get a general sense of the conversations happening on social media that they may not be able to grasp on their own. Avidia Bank, a mutual community bank in Massachusetts, stated that through Hootsuite, it was able to understand its customers more and make adjustments, if necessary. “The social media team at Avidia monitors social channels for mentions or reviews and responds within one business day. It also addresses any trends or issues that are flagged by its customer service team.” The chief marketing officer at Avidia said that social media allows for there to be a conversation with consumers and it allows the brand to get to know the customers.
Among monitoring sentiments, this social media management platform has additional features through its paid add ons. Hootsuite’s Insights tool, which is powered by Brandwatch, allows companies to conduct social listening that they may not be able to access them. It states that it can “make sense of millions of customer conversations happening in real time, stay on top of trends, and set strategies with confidence.”
Created in 2010, Sprout Social is an all-in-one “social media management platform that allows users to ‘build and grow stronger relationships on social.’” Like Hootsuite, Sprout Social allows companies to focus on reputation and crisis management, identify issues and make improvements, create two-way communications, and pinpoint user generated content.
This paid platform has features that make it easy for a social media management team to monitor its community. As expected, Sprout Social has the opportunity to schedule posts, monitor streams on different social media platforms, and most importantly, it allows for social media managers to converse with the company’s audience. Sprout Social’s Smart Inbox is a tool that allows an organization to “collect all messages sent by people to [any of the organization’s] social accounts.”
The Social Listening feature answers “the ‘why’ behind the ‘what.’” It provides insights beyond sentiments, audience analysis and consumer feedback — it has the ability to compare how well a campaign is performing and potential influencers to push the brand forward.
The Chicago Bulls used Sprout Social to schedule posts and plan out campaigns. Luka Dukich, the senior digital content manager for the Bulls, said that he was blown away by the abilities of the platform to know what’s happening and what their fans are responding to. He added, “Sprout gives us the ability to see what types of campaigns are working in real time, as well as the ability to adjust appropriately. I don’t think we’ve ever had a tool that’s been able to so quickly provide us with feedback.”
Through Sprout Social, the Bulls were able to learn further insights through “audience sentiment around specific topics, as well as uncover emerging trends among fans.” There were able to look into audience demographics and location to look into the fans’ attitudes and opinions on certain subjects.
Hootsuite and Sprout Social are perfect for companies that have a budget to monitor the community. I have not had to opportunity to explore these platforms in their entirety, but from my research, I can see why they are so popular.