I first entered the social media game in 2011, and Twitter and Facebook were king. Linkedin was gaining popularity and no one had a clue about how to properly use any of these social media giants.
Today social media marketing is still a fairly new phenomenon, powered by the exponential technological advancements of the last 20 years. The old guard marketing tactics of TV spots, radio ads, and billboards are still profitable and effective - when done correctly - because they are processes marketers mapped and mastered more than half a century ago. They survived the disruption of our interconnected world by evolving into streaming services, podcasts, and Instagram accounts.
Despite its unmatched reach, effective social media marketing is still a moving target with many unknowns. There’s an irony in that social media, the invention that disrupted, and continues to disrupt, nearly every industry we can imagine, is constantly disrupted by . . . itself, or the hundreds of new social platforms and tools developed to compete in the space.
In 2011 Hootsuite was pretty much the only social media management tool, and that was all I had to work with. 300 Facebook and Twitter accounts, Hootsuite to manage it all, and one person to produce all of the content. Thankfully that is no longer the case.
With tools such as Buffer, Canva, and Feedly, what used to take weeks can now be done in an hour or two, which frees up social media managers to be really creative when developing engaging content for their clients. Out of them all, one of the most helpful tools I’ve found in really nailing down this process is CoSchedule.
Social Media Management
CoSchedule is a service that offers a multitude of tools to marketers. It stands apart from its competitors by providing a task/project management system, and integration with dozens of the most popular marketing tools, such as MailChimp.
At A Better Jones we’ve tested all of the tools and services mentioned in this article, and CoSchedule is the one we keep coming back to. A great way to think of it is by imagining the project management capabilities of Flow, combined with Buffer’s social media management tools, and swirled together with easy-to-read analytics and team performance reports.
After months of trying demos and free trials, the closest competitor I could find was Sprout Social. The power of the Sprout Social brand worked its magic on me and I was ready to recommend we switch tools, but there was one feature that made CoSchedule the standout.
CoSchedule’s social media manager allows you to create post templates using ‘text and image helpers’. With this tool, marketers can craft weeks’ or even months’ worth of social media posts in a couple of minutes.
For example; Let’s say you are promoting an event and you wanted a Twitter post for today, an hour before the event. Using CoSchedule’s helpers I can craft a template that looks like this:
Day of Publish: Don’t miss [event] [time] [place] [hashtags]
Hour Before Event: We’re just an hour away from [event] [place] [hashtags]
You then simply fill in the information for each text helper and CoSchedule automatically fills in the information across the template, allowing you to produce dozens of messages, with a myriad of sentence structures, in just a few short minutes.
The system has a bit of a learning curve, but it’s the perfect example of the kind of project that’s hard work upfront, then great dividends in the long run. Dividends that vastly outweigh the headache of learning a new user interface (UI).
During my Sprout Social Demo, the sales rep’s jaw literally dropped when I showed her CoSchedule’s text helpers, and she remarked, “That’s amazing. I haven’t seen anything like that.”
In addition, CoSchedule’s social media tools include a built-in predictive hashtag helper, a system for tracking, and adding your most popular messages into an evergreen posting cycle, and some of easiest to read analytics reports I’ve ever seen. Its analytics tools also constantly track your post data, which means the system gets better at recommending optimal posting days and times for each connected account.
It is a paid service, and it doesn’t have every capability social media managers want, but given everything that it does offer, it’s far more cost-effective than paying for an abundance of separate tools.
Message Optimization Across Platforms
Luckily, one of CoSchedule’s most useful tools is absolutely free. The Social Media Message Optimizer is the tool I would have killed for when I was the new kid on the social media block.
While there is a lot about the social marketing space that continues to be unclear, billions of social messages have given us more than enough data to determine aspects like optimal message lengths and which types of messages perform best on which platforms.
CoSchedule’s optimizer scores your social media messages based on character length, use of hashtags, emojis, and language use, such as emotional appeals, or expressing a negative thought. It then breaks down how effective your message would be on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Google +.
Each score comes with a set of recommendations for improving your message on that specific platform. It’s a great tool for beginner and advanced social media marketers because it teaches you how to write more effective social media messages, and its recommendations are based on the data CoSchedule collects from its clients’ posts.
Like any free tool, it isn’t perfect. Marketers need to consider their message intent, target audience, industry, and client goals when crafting their posts, rather than purely relying on the optimizer. A great example is that LinkedIn posts without hashtags tend to get higher engagement rates than those that do. However, LinkedIn members do follow hashtags and depending on the size of your client’s audience, hashtags may actually be part of your preferred LinkedIn marketing strategy. The optimizer can give you kudos for using an emoji, but it can’t tell you if you're using the right emoji for your message. Also, just because image posts perform the best on Instagram, it doesn’t mean video posts won’t do well. Take the tool for what it is, a recommendation, and don’t be afraid to get creative with it.
Are we missing out on another excellent social media management tool? Let us know with a message to firstname.lastname@example.org!