What to Consider
There are dozens, if not hundreds of solutions out there that let you manage and integrate different slices of the social media pie, but we are still searching for the Holy Grail in this relatively new area. However, Ive spotted a few vendors that have put together more comprehensive solutions designed and priced specifically for small business budgets, including:
BatchBlues BatchBook, a social CRM offering that integrates contact, sales and social media feeds, with mobile versions for iPhone and Blackberry. The social media integration is cool after you enter social media feeds from Twitter, blogs, LinkedIn, etc. on a contact record, you automatically see a contacts social networking profile, and the last three posts, tweets and/or other entries when you open the record so that you can keep a pulse on customers and prospects.
With lists and reports, you can build lists, or create customized reports. BatchBook integrates with MailChimp, so you can send email newsletters to your lists. BatchBlue gives all new customers a minimum of two hours of one-on-one consulting time to help them get productive as quickly as possible.
Pricing ranges from $9.95 to $99.95 a month, based on the number of users, storage, and one-on-one consultation time you need. My take is that BatchBlue is a great solution for tech-savvy small businesses, especially services businesses where every relationship counts.
CloudProfile gives small businesses a unified content publishing and social media hub and Web presence, which you can use standalone in place of a Web site, or with your existing Web site. You create an online profile, which enables your business to get found in search engines like Google, business directories and on social networks. It helps you find and connect with customers on Twitter and Facebook, and it offers tools such as click-to-call, text messaging and e-mail marketing to help you stay connected with customers.
CloudProfile provides built-In reports and connect to Google Analytics. The company plans to add PayPal and Amazon checkout and appointment scheduling soon. Pricing starts at $14.95 a month. A very good choice for the approximately 40 percent of small businesses that dont yet have a Web site gives you an online presence plus social capabilities.
HubSpot helps companies create, optimize and promote their content. It features a blogging platform and a content management system, plus tools to help analyze your marketing reach via blogs, leads, Facebook and Twitter accounts. It provides links to conversations across the Internet related to your business' keywords in one tidy dashboard.
The Web Voter feature lets you create a social news page on your site, where people can submit links and vote on them creating an activity hub for discussion of hot issues. HubSpot also provides Keyword, Page and Link Graders, to help optimize search result rankings. Optional integration with Salesforce.com CRM is available.
HubSpot charges an initial $500 start up fee, and ongoing pricing starts at $250 per month. It also offers a number of free tools, including Graders for Web sites, press releases, blogs, etc. HubSpot provides a very comprehensive solution for both small and medium businesses.
ZooLoo provides a one-stop shop to get an online presence and manage social media interactions including domain name registration, Web site creation, a blogging platform, SEO tools, privacy controls, storage and tools to connect across social networking sites along with a personal dashboard to manage all of it. Some tools, such as the Graffiti blogging platform that lets you share posts across your social networks, are free.
ZooLoo charges for other things, such as domain registration, Web sites and privacy controls. Fee-based services range in price from $1.99 to $9.99 per month. Although most of its current customers are consumers, ZooLoo is a great fit for entrepreneurs and the Facebook-like interface makes it easy for anyone to learn.
As you can see, these companies come at the social media management conundrum from different angles. As you evaluate these and other offerings, think about what is most critical to your business. What are your key objectives for your social networking investments? Where do you spend the most time manually scanning, managing, updating and integrating across social media streams and more structured marketing activities? Where are the gaps?
There is no one-size fits all, so use your own requirements and objectives to help you start taming the social media Hydra.
Read More Articles by Laurie McCabe:
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- What is Virtualization, and Why Should You Care?
- What is Social Networking, and Why Should You Care?
Did this help you understand social media management more clearly? Let me know, and send me any additional questions you have on this topic. Also, please send your suggestions for other technology terms and areas that you'd like explained in upcoming columns. E-mail me at email@example.com, tweet me at lauriemccabe on Twitter or read my blog.
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