Five Affordable Social Media Analytics Tools for your Brand

We all know that social media is not free especially when it comes to community management, creating content, and boosting posts to be promoted (ex.Twitter). Social media analytics are another cost that entails some investment when it comes to your marketing strategy and overall marketing goals. Of course there are always the free tools like Google Analytics and Facebook Insights. Google Analytics help you determine what social sites are helping to drive traffic to your site and what campaigns are working versus those that need to be dumped or optimized. Facebook Insights is constantly evolving but overall it allows you to see what content your fans engage with, when and how often.

Here are 5 more to consider for your social toolbox: 
1. Topsy- Simple, easy to use tool that comes in a free (or paid) version in order to let brands monitor Twitter. One of my favorite parts about it is that you can see what hashtags are being used – how often, by who, and what the conversation is around that hashtag. This is a crucial step to take before using hashtags in your tweets, in order to ensure it is the proper conversation for your brand, your tone/voice, and of course your audience.
2. Hootsuite- I think we all know Hootsuite, but it is sometimes overlooked. It’s a great community management tool (free or very cheap) that enables a community manager to monitor, schedule posts, and manage multiple channels from one location. And it comes with an analytics portion which allows you to customize reports for easy analysis and sharing with management.
3. Twitalyzer- Quick, easy to use tool that allows you to monitor your competition (specifically for Twitter). Obviously not the only tool to use, but a nice tool to add on to your arsenal when needed.
4. Bottlenose –  Great visual of conversation going on around your brand in real time. It helps you visualize what your brand is connected to or who the influencers are and what they are influential about. Great for monitoring, targeting, and being able to engage in real time and not losing out.
5. Social Flow – Not free, but gives your brands an edge up when scheduling posts and tweets, to see when is the best time for your brand to hop into a conversation for your particular audience. It helps to ensure that you are using the write phrasing, and taking advantage of the best time and day for that particular social engagement – whether it’s during a live event or otherwise.

Bonus: If you have the budget to spend a little more money

Radian6 - Great listening tool to see what is being said about your brand, the competition, what’s occurring in real time, and of course the ability to hop into conversations with your customers and be a part of the community. This tool is perfect for finding your influencers, and engaging with them organically as it streamlines the process for your brand and makes the process way less manual and less cumbersome.

Not sure which one you want to use? TIP: Many tools will allow a free trial before you jump in with the fee, so always see if you can test out the tools first.
Note: This post was originally written for socialnomics and my post can also be found here.

How to: Use Twitter for Customer Service

Companies today realize (or are realizing) that customer service is more than the in-person and over-the-phone help that it once was. Today, your brand has the free tools available to help  in “real-time” and prove to your current and future consumers that your customer service rocks and you truly care for each consumer on an individual basis. Want to be the next Zappos with their witty and real-time quality customer service via Twitter? Keep reading!

Zappos has shown its consumers that each one will receive the care and service they deserve. As seen from the image above, “@xtraRegularRyan” had a convo with @zappos_service on Twitter after a purchase was received. This conversation after the fact demonstrates that the consumer was not only pumped but ecstatic to share this news. Could that be a loyal consumer? I think so!

As Frank Eliason commented in Social Media Examiner, “Be human about it. Let your team service your customers. Let them do what they do well and allow them to be who they are.” That’s exactly what Zappos does on Twitter– the customer service teams not only assists customers with what they need, but they have an actual conversation with them – whether it’s about “growing a mustache” or whatever suits your fancy — being “human” is key to building a customer relationship with your brand and maintaining it.

What tools can help?

Hootsuite: Keep track of what your consumers are saying on yourcomputer or while you’re running from meeting to meeting via iPad or smartphone.Hootsuite allows your company to manage Twitter and other applications on a simple platform where you can monitor multiple conversations/accounts at once. Afraid of a consumer question or request getting lost — Hootsuite helps you keep keep it organized! (p.s. Also integrated with Zendesk!) Hootsuite has 2 pricing plans: Basic = Free: Pro = $5.99/month

Zendesk: A web-based service to help you engage with your consumers in a simple and effective way. It has Twitter integration which allows you to connect easily with your consumers/tweeps (we really need a Twitter word for consumers….). You would be emailed and can accordingly manage customer service requests in order to respond more efficiently – whether you answer yourself or have another member of your team do so. A great tool to make sure your customers are kept happy because you can respond to each request rather than getting lost in your inbox. Zendesk has a Free Trial with 3 pricing plans: Starter: $9/month; Regular: $24/month; Plus: $49/month.

MarketMeSuite: is more than just a social media marketing dashboard forTwitter and other apps. It allows you to have unlimited accounts, schedule tweets, focus on following and unfollowing the right users, geolocation, among many other fun options.  MarketMeSuite has 3 pricing plans: $5.99/month; $59.99 a year; $99.00 (pay once for lifetime).

CoTweet allows you to focus on specific conversations so you know when is best to respond; track exchanges and assign them to certain departments (like Zappos who has a customer service twitter account, @zappos_service,  separate from the regular zappos account, @zappos) in your company so you can ensure that your brand “humanizes” its engagement and you can even include signatures so you know who’s responding (aka stay organized). CoTweet has a standard version for free and an enterprise offering for $1500/month.

p.s. Both MarketMeSuite and CoTweet integrate with Zendesk too!

Radian6: Known to power the likes of Dell and others in assisting their community listening, engaging and monitoring needs. Radian6 helps companies keep track of what’s being asked and said in an organized manner in order to ease the process of answering and commenting to your consumers on a regular basis. In addition, Radian6‘s Engagement Console allows you to listen more efficiently and has a sweet interface too! Radian6 asks you to Register for a Demo before getting pricing details.

Valuevine: A nifty tool to listen to what consumers are saying about your brand and also share promotions with target consumers. Has helped retailers realize the importance of Twitter and Facebook in social media marketing and the ease and use of both in listening and engaging with their target consumer. Valuevine asks you torequest a demo before receiving pricing information.

Tools such as Radian6, CoTweet, and ValueVine are great Social CRM tools for your company to utilize. What is Social CRM exactly? Many social media experts have their own versions for this definition, but here’s a great simple explanation– It is CRM for the social customer. The customer who is “savvy” and gets his or her information via the social channels such as Twitter and Facebook. Therefore, your company must be “savvy” as well and be able to engage he or she on those channels by listening, conversing, and monitoring. Tools like the ones above assist with keeping track of conversations so you have a better handle on responding to the customers’ needs and can also get to know each customer more personally by having a record of what social platforms they are on and what they are commenting and questioning.

Here are two more Social CRM tools at your disposal:

BantamLive is a contact management system plus Twitter client that also allows for Social CRM in order to track and engage contacts on social platforms. The tool has many integrations including Twitter, Google Apps, and others. It even includes some light project management features appropriate for small businesses. The best part of this tool though is its ease to keep track of your leads on the social platforms, get details about them and then engage each in a personal manner. And as we know, each consumer wants to be treated in a personal and unique manner.  BantamLive has a Free Trial and 5 Pricing Plans: Personal for $19/month up to $140/month for a deluxe business plan.

Sprout Social: Their tagline is “turning social connections into loyal customers.” What company wouldn’t want “loyal customers?” The tools appears to cater toward the smaller brands and agencies who want a tool that is a bit more affordable. In addition, Sprout Social helps to organize your social networks in one easy to access place, helps organize messages by current and potential customers in order to respond and engage in real-time, and helps you measure your social reach and potential success with your target clients. Awesome!  Sprout Social has a Free Trial and 2 Pricing Plans: $9/month for Personal and $49/month for Business.

As Lars Asbjornsen, VP of Online Marketing of Robert Half International stated: “Social media can alert you to customer-service complaints before you heard them in traditional channels. And that’s how most CFOs are using social media. Ignore the customer complaints on social media at your company’s peril.”

So, “listen up”, “respond well” and in “real-time!”


Repeat: Good Customer Service = Loyalty

As I entered Island Creek Oyster Bar in Kenmore Square with a girlfriend of mine, I was impressed with the layout, decor, and atmosphere. Then the hostess spoke – and it was all ruined. Just kidding. Actually the two hostesses were delightfully polite and were able to seat us sooner than we expected. We took seats at the oyster bar further back — which gave us a great view of everyone who entered and was seated — and of course of the delicious oysters being shucked. The bartender who served us was not only kind and knowledgeable about the oysters, menu, and wine list, but very attentive, well-mannered, and a joy to be seated near. And by the time we were stuffed and ready to be rolled out of the restaurant, the chef came out to speak with us. Now I must say, I felt slightly like royalty at this restaurant, and it was only my first visit.

What’s my point, you ask? Great customer service is key to bringing about a loyal consumer. Everyone who I encountered in the restaurant was polite, friendly and a pleasure to speak with. There was not one person who did not smile and say hello. Thus, whatever brand you may be – a hotel, a retail store, a website, a phone company, a law firm, or a restaurant — customer service is not only a key point in consumer loyalty, but a necessity. As I had mentioned in my previous post about Amazon, it was the “service” that made me “loyal.”

Thank you Island Creek Oyster Bar – you have a fan in me. And to all those out there who wonder how they can win over more consumers who will speak praises, just walk into this restaurant and learn.

Customer service can make or break a brand

Customer service is key to a brand having loyalty by a consumer — at least for me, that’s the case. For example, recently an item I purchased via Amazon was not delivered. My online status said “delivered” but said package was not on my doorstep. I immediately thought “crap! Someone took it!” — “now what?” Well I phoned Amazon and asked if they knew what happened, and they realized it was accidentally delivered to the wrong address. I was dismayed because I was really hoping to have the item that day. What did Amazon do? They promised to have the item delivered by end of business the next day. I was relieved and the matter was squared away within less than 5 minutes. Unbelievable — I got a person on the phone, she was polite, she answered my questions, and fixed the problem! Is it sad, that I was surprised this actually happened? Sad, indeed. An even bigger surprise was that my package came within 12 hours – I had it the next morning! All I can say is, Amazon – you rock! I am a loyal consumer, and will not falter (unless you fail me – but please don’t!)

Customer Service – the bedrock of customer brand loyalty.