August 08, 2012, 10:26 AM — Managing your company's social media presence is becoming an increasingly complex task. Small-business owners who used to rely on Twitter to post updates to LinkedIn, for instance, no longer have that option.
Fortunately, other tools allow you to manage your business's assorted social media accounts from a single dashboard. We've selected the top five that are specifically geared toward small business. To make our list, each tool had to meet several criteria.
- Affordability: The tool is either free or priced low enough to meet the budget of a one- or two-person business.
- Scalability: The tool grows with your company's needs, even if you start with just one or two accounts.
- Support for Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter: If a social media management tool doesn't post to all three networks, it's dead to most small businesses.
- Update posting assistance: The tool allows you to schedule posts in advance.
If you've been around social media for any period of time, you've probably used HootSuite, the tool of choice for many social media professionals and small businesses. But the limitations of the free version (it supports only one user and five social profiles, for instance) mean that most businesses will grow to the point where the free version is no longer acceptable. Although HootSuite seems to have dealt with this problem by providing the option to upgrade to HootSuite Pro for unlimited profiles and more features, it's worthwhile to look around at other alternatives once your business starts demanding too much of HootSuite.
The free version does the job for microbusinesses with the standard Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter accounts to update, and HootSuite Pro will work for small businesses that don't need to support more than two users. If you find yourself needing more-robust analytics and other features, it's time to upgrade to another tool.
Cost: HootSuite is free for one user and up to five social profiles. HootSuite Pro, priced at $10 per month, includes two user accounts, unlimited social profiles, and other premium features. Larger businesses should check out HootSuite Enterprise.