social media manager

The Best Tools for Social Media Managers & SEOs

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A Complete Guide on WHAT tools you should be using, WHY you should be using them, and HOW to combine these tools to increase efficiency, build transparency with clients, deliver results, and be seen as a professional.

Building and managing an online community is no cakewalk. Neither is tipping the Google scales in your favor. It requires skill, finesse, craftiness, smarts — you get it. It takes a lot. That’s not to say that it can’t be done. Of course, using the right tools (and using them right) is what separates good marketing, from great marketing.

So, you’ve made the decision to kick it into gear and build something. I’m sure you have found that creating engagement is not as easy as it sounds. Managing link campaigns can be a nightmare. Keeping track of what everyone is doing can be a pain, especially if you manage a virtual team. What’s worse: it takes up quite a bit of time, which affects your work output and eats up hours that can be spent on creating new evergreen content. Content that will drive more traffic.

Selecting The Best Tools For The Serious Community Manager & SEO

Just like a mechanic needs a wrench, or a carpenter a hammer, a social media manager or SEO needs tools for productivity, tracking, and task scheduling. While knowledge and enthusiasm are the best tools you’ll ever have, learning how to work smarter (rather than harder), is what you need to aim for.

Your clients definitely won’t mind either.

What we’ll be doing is going over the various tools I use to manage accounts. First, I will list the tools I am using; included in the list will be key benefits, takeaways, and an idea of the cost. In the second half of the series, I’ll be running through the steps I take to 1) social media manager and link building campaigns for clients; 2) be as efficient and productive as possible; 3) coordinate with team members; 4) involve clients in the project; 5) track results.

Get ready for an exhaustive list of the tools I’ve come to know and love. It’s kind of a big list.

Here are the tools we’ll be working with:

For social media manager:

Sprout Social

Sprout Social, in my opinion, has the best user interface. While it is on the pricier side of social media management tools, it makes up for it by allowing simple message scheduling and task assignment. It has a feature similar to Buffer called the Sprout Queue, which allows you to set predetermined time slots for tweets and posts. You then just use the bookmarklet to schedule posts to the next time slot, without having to go through multiple clicks to schedule a message.

  • Key Benefit(s): Sound notification makes it easy to respond to tweets and messages when they happen; assign tasks and follow-ups; ability to create reports; Sprout Queue.
  • What Annoys Me: Standard plan allows only 10 accounts; no task assignment features on the standard plan; a bit pricey.
  • Price Range: $39 – $99/mo.

Hootsuite

I’ve had a back and forth love affair with Hootsuite. That being said, I do use it. What’s awesome about this tool is that you can manage virtually an endless amount of accounts from a wide variety of social networks. However, I’ve always found the interface to be a bit crowded for my taste. It’s great for sending out posts through multiple accounts, but engaging in the app itself is cumbersome.

Although, with the price, you really can’t complain. For under $10 bucks per month, you can manage unlimited accounts, schedule and post messages from your browser, and import a ton of RSS feeds. It’s great for getting a snapshot of everything that’s happening in one place. And, it doubles as an RSS aggregator, which makes browsing content and finding things to talk about very easy.

  • Key Benefit(s): Manage unlimited accounts; assign team members; very inexpensive; import RSS feeds easily.
  • What Annoys Me: Having the bookmarklet installed in your browser causes Twitter links on web pages to be opened in the app, instead of going to the page; too noisy/crowded; unable to generate reports (without paying $50).
  • Price Range: Free – $8.99/mo. Enterprise plans are available.

Buffer

I only use this tool for one reason – the ability to schedule retweets. Buffer is a nifty little browser app that allows you to add posts/tweets to be sent out at designated time slots throughout the day. I like the fact that I can schedule retweets in advance. Most social media management tools lack this feature. Beyond that, I haven’t had much use for it.

  • Key Benefit(s): Schedule retweets.
  • What Annoys Me: Not being able to add more than one Twitter account without upgrading.
  • Price Range: Free – $10/mo.

For SEO:

Raven Tools

Raven Tools is hands down the best reporting tool for SEOs that need customizable, detailed reporting for clients. You can manage links, which is a breeze (with the browser extension). Plus, generating reports is a quick process that doesn’t take days. You can add your own style to each report with branding and summaries. This tool is a must if you want reports and accountability (that will knock the socks off your clients).

  • Key Benefit(s): Excellent branded reporting; easily keep track of links; social media reports; schedule tasks; the list goes on.
  • What Annoys Me: The browser extension is a bit slow, which is a pain in the ass if you routinely have a lot of tabs open on your computer.
  • Price Range: $99 – $249/mo.

Scrapebox

It may seem out of place seeing this one on the list because it has a bit of a reputation. It’s notorious for being used to spam blog comments. That being said, it is a white hat SEO’s best friend. If you have ever had to plug away with Google search operators looking for sites to guest post on, or to build an outreach list, chances are that took you quite a bit of time. With Scrapebox you can have that job done on autopilot.

You can type in your “footprints” (search operators) and let Scrapebox do its job. It also doubles as a bulk PageRank checker and you’re able to export everything to Excel. There are plenty more ways you can use this tool. Neil Patel and Jacob King wrote some incredible tutorials. You can find those here and here.

  • Key Benefit(s): Saves massive amounts of time doing link research and other link building activities. No monthly or annual payments. Pay once and get a lifetime license.
  • What Annoys Me: Hunting down proxies or having to get your own private proxies. Although, it is very simple and Scrapebox has a function to help in this area.
  • Price Range: $97 flat. (Psst. I know how you can save $40. Tweet my praise and I will tell you.)

SerpFox

If you solely rely on manual rank tracking, you are an idiot. If you have a number of sites/keywords to track, you’re better off using a service like this. You can create groups for your sites, track ranking, get email updates, and see a visual report of how your keywords are performing in the SERPs.

  • Key Benefit(s): Rank tracking; inexpensive; ability to track a large number of keywords.
  • What Annoys Me: Another expense.
  • Price Range: $10 – $200/mo.

SEO Quake

This tool is extremely helpful for link building research. It is a free browser extension that allows you to easily check Page Rank, links, and a number of other metrics that can help you quickly evaluate a website on the fly. I use it mainly to check PR and a few other metrics.

It should be noted that PageRank is not as relevant as some would have you believe. There are plenty of sites that have high PR, yet little traffic or engagement. That being said, it’s still a metric you need to keep track of – and these numbers are important to clients.

  • Key Benefit(s): Quickly check PageRank and other domain metrics.
  • What Annoys Me: Don’t really have any gripes for this one.
  • Price Range: Free

Keyword Spy

This is a really great tool for uncovering organic and PPC competitors in your niche. It also gives you the ability to track keywords. All it takes is plugging in a URL and voilà — you now have a wealth of information on who your competitors are. This is an excellent tool for your link building efforts and can point you in the right direction for your research.

  • Key Benefit(s): Instantly uncover who your competitors are for both organic and PPC results. Track keywords and get notifications on new competitors.
  • What Annoys Me: Nothing too much to gripe about here. It would be nice if the free trial allowed you to use the software to its full extent.
  • Price Range: Free – $139.95

For Lead Generation:

Aweber

Without a doubt, this is the standard for email marketing. There are two things that I find very helpful with Aweber. First off, the fact that it’s so easy to create follow-up email campaigns. The second thing I like is being able to embed a subscribe form right in the middle of my post.

  • Key Benefit(s): Easily create autoresponder messages and campaigns. Follow-up and broadcast messages are a breeze. Simple campaign set-up.
  • What Annoys Me: No ‘freemium’ model. Not as pretty as Mailchimp.
  • Price Range: Starting at $19/mo.

Callfire

Callfire is essential for marketers who work in lead generation. This handy little service allows you to track offline conversions in many ways. If you create landing pages geared towards calls (and need to track calls), this is for you. If you are launching a print campaign and want to track conversions – again, this is for you.

  • Key Benefit(s): Gives you the ability to easily track and record calls. Great for landing pages and print ads. It’s great for outbound dialling as well.
  • What Annoys Me: It’s a cheap service with a lot of features. I can’t really complain.
  • Price Range: $1 and up.

For Team/Project Management:

Basecamp

Basecamp is one of the most popular project management tools out there. It’s great for team collaboration and allows you to easily share documents, conversations and ‘to-do’ lists with your team. The software also has mobile apps for iOS, Android, and Windows.

  • Key Benefit(s): Very simple, straightforward way to keep track of projects with your team and clients. One of the most useful features is the ability to involve a client on a project and still keep certain things private to your team.
  • What Annoys Me: Getting too caught up in the “planning” phase of projects. Developing the habit of using these tools. (Although, it’s worth it in the end).
  • Price Range: $20 – $100/mo.

Trello

Another project management software, similar to Basecamp except for in this case there is a free option. Trello has its own unique look and set of features, although not as feature-rich as Basecamp.

  • Key Benefit(s): Great (free) alternative to Basecamp. It has many of the same features, although not as well put together or advanced. A business version has expanded features and Google Apps integration.
  • What Annoys Me: The “boards”, the area where you manage your projects, is a bit too rigid and clutter.
  • Price Range: Free to $25/mo.

Skype

  • Key Benefit(s): Easy way to communicate face-to-face with anyone in the world; cheap international calls.
  • What Annoys Me: Is it me, or does video call quality seem to always be a crapshoot?
  • Price Range: Free – $9.99/mo.

For Productivity:

Task Timer

  • Key Benefit(s): Handy browser extension that allows you to set timers for small tasks; presents a visual graph of how your time was spent.
  • What Annoys Me: It would be nice to have a bit more flexibility to create multiple task lists separated by category.
  • Price Range: Free.

Google Calendar

  • Key Benefit(s): A free calendar/schedule that integrates with Gmail; ability to create public calendars and share calendars individually.
  • What Annoys Me: Don’t really have any gripes for this one.
  • Price Range: Free.

For Remembering Stuff:

Evernote

  • Key Benefit(s): Probably the best bookmark management system for the web. Everything is stored in the cloud, and a simple browser extension allows you to save web pages by category for easy retrieval.
  • What Annoys Me: Zilch.
  • Price Range: Free – $10/mo.

Wunderlist

  • Key Benefit(s): Neat way to create ‘To-do’ lists and remember tasks. A simple, clean dashboard that allows you to organize your task lists however you want..
  • What Annoys Me: Actually having to complete the list.
  • Price Range: Free – $4.99/mo.

For Email:

Rapportive

  • Key Benefit(s): Rapportive shows you everything about your contacts right inside your inbox. You can immediately see what people appear as if, where they’re based, and what they are doing.
  • What Annoys Me: Another company sucking up my data like a black hole.
  • Price Range: Free.

Canned Responses

  • Key Benefit(s): Create prefilled emails for when you don’t feel like typing the same thing out again; great for outreach.
  • What Annoys Me: Accidentally deleting my canned response.
  • Price Range: Free.

For Automation:

IFFFT

  • Key Benefit(s): Automate posting and other tasks, so you can free up time for other tasks.
  • What Annoys Me: That it doesn’t automate everything I want it to.
  • Price Range: Free.

Twitterfeed

  • Key Benefit(s): Perfect for automating Twitter accounts to tweet via RSS. It also works with LinkedIn and Facebook.
  • What Annoys Me: Hmm.. can’t really think of anything.
  • Price Range: Free.

Yahoo! Pipes

  • Key Benefit(s): Very awesome tool for creating your own customized RSS feeds and automating Twitter accounts.
  • What Annoys Me: A little difficult to get the hang of at first.
  • Price Range: Free.
Also Read: 8 Social Media Tools That Can Boost Your Business

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