People are talking about their business experiences. They may not be bringing this up at parties or social events, but they do share their feelings via social websites like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and Instagram. In fact, consumers are more apt to openly discuss their interactions with a business while safely tucked behind a computer screen or privately using a smartphone than confronting a manager. Small business owners want, and need to know what their customers are saying. Thankfully, social management media tools have been evolving over the past few years providing one-stop formats business leaders can access; eavesdropping on both positive and negative responses. These software tools help business owners react to correct problems, resolve conflicts, and respond to provide a better customer service experience faster than ever before.
Just as the momentum of smartphone apps looked more like an avalanche than a rolling snowball, social media management tools are also springing to life. Rankur, touted as an online reputation management and brand protection tool, offers online media monitoring and reporting using a web crawler to sniff out conversations about your business. The price ranges from a free basic package to $98 per month to provide coverage of business mentions, reputation alerts, and monitoring of online reviews. Another good social media management tool is HootSuite, which can manage multiple social networks, track business mentions, analyze traffic, and schedule messages. Plans start at free and go up to $9.99 per month, and then to the pricier Enterprise system that supports 25 global languages.
Some social media management tools make it easy to send out messages by scheduling and managing your business Tweets, Instagrams, and LinkedIn notices, and Facebook postings while tracking follower responses. Sprout Social is one of those providing publishing and engagement tools while keeping track of what customers are saying as well as social media stats. One of the newly launched social media management tools is Local Measure, a business counterpart to consumer startup Roamz, a mobile app that searches through social sites for interesting things. Local Measure is being touted as the first geo-based social media management tool for small businesses, helping small businesses effectively understand the real-time conversations customers are having across social platforms. This tool merges local content, social media and mobile technology, to provide an aggregate view of conversations taking place in real time, at an individual store or on a store-by-store basis for chains.
“We have a small boutique hotel using our product,” says Jonathan Barouch. Local Measure CEO. “It showed them that a famous surfer was staying in their hotel and had used Instagram and Twitter to share a photo of his son in their hotel without mentioning the hotel name. This particular surfer had over 150,000 followers so it was a great way to fuel word of mouth advertising by engaging with him since management had no idea he was staying there.”
Social media management tools continue to develop key features to help small businesses not only connect to prospects and customers, but also interact with them in real time. As Barouch summarizes, “We are really interested in giving small businesses access to the same types of insights that were previously only available to large corporations or online merchants. We see ourselves as leveling the playing field for small businesses by arming them with the insight to understand their customers, engage with their customers, and ultimately find new customers.”
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