5 Social Media Tools To Help Listen To Your Customers – And Your Competitors

Social listening is more than a trendy buzzword; it’s an essential part of your business’ digital strategy.

Listening to your target audiences online helps you monitor trends, identify potential influencers, and track consumer sentiment to grow your community and develop more relevant, engaging content.

For even more valuable insight use social listening tools to monitor what your competitors are doing and how their consumers respond. We break down 5 of the best social media listening tools to make the job easy for you:

1. Hootsuite

One of the earliest comprehensive social monitoring tools available, Hootsuite remains one of the most popular today. Hootsuite Insights accesses real-time data from over 100 million sources in 50+ languages across 25+ social networks and other platforms to make sure you never miss a conversation that matters.

Social sentiment around your brand – or your competitors – can be filtered by location, language, and gender for a multi-dimensional view of your market segments. Take advantage of the free basic plan or upgrade for additional functionality.

2. Sprout Social

Easy to use and reasonably priced with plans starting at $59/month, it’s no wonder Sprout Social is among the leading social media management tools on the market today.

Track hashtags, keywords mentions and sentiment across multiple social channels in real time, then use the data you’ve gathers to gain deeper insights thanks to a suite of helpful analytics tools and customizable reporting options.

3. Mention

Mention promises to scour the web, allowing you to monitor your brand, your products, your consumers and your competitors anywhere online.

An integrated dashboard allows you to post, reply, and engage on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram from a single screen, while collaboration tools help you share and assign tasks to your team members. The budget friendly Solo plan starts at just $29/month.

4. Likeable Local

Designed specifically for small business, Likeable Local is on a mission to transform small businesses into #likeable businesses through the power of social media.

The platform promises to help manage your reputation and track the conversations which matter to you with advanced keyword tracking across multiple channels, while connecting you with the people searching for or talking about your services online. Monthly plans start at $299.

5. Brandwatch

Popular among larger enterprises and agency clients, the social listening tools from Brandwatch provide valuable insights to small business owners as well.

Brandwatch Analytics tracks conversations as they happen on social media channels, blogs, forums, review sites and more, to help you listen to your customers anywhere, any time.

The extensive selection of features for analysis, includies advanced filtering, tagging and categorization, Alerts, flexible charting, topic and sentiment analysis, and plenty more data management capabilities. Pricing is available upon request only.

Small Business, Little Time – Tips to Get the Most from Social Media

small business social media tips

As a small business owner, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by social media. Your time and attention are already pulled in multiple directions – is it really worth promoting your business on Facebook, YouTube,

Twitter and more? Yes, if you’re doing it right. Follow these 5 tips to ensure your business gets maximum value from your online presence, with maximum efficiency.

1. Research before you start

Every successful venture begins with a plan. Before getting started spend some time understanding which channels your customers are using and why. While SnapChat might be an effective tool for reaching tweens and teens, it is unlikely to help you engage with customers who are 50+.

2. Automation is your friend

While you may see the best results from posting daily, or even several times a day, that doesn’t mean you have to be a slave to your keyboard all day. Take advantage of scheduling options within social media networks such as Facebook, or purpose-built tools such as Hootsuite, Sprout Social and Buffer.

With some careful planning and an hour or so of your time, you can schedule a week’s worth of posts across multiple social networks, add photos or videos and choose the exact date and time for each to go live.

3. Sharing is caring

Social media is about engagement, not selling. One key to engaging your audience is ensuring the content you share is truly relevant to them and not just a sales message promoting your business or product.

Sharing interesting content from other trusted sources boosts the quality and diversity of your feed, while also encouraging those sources to return the favour and share your content with their own audiences. Follow other businesses, bloggers, and thought leaders in your field to get relevant, sharable content delivered right to your news feed.

4. Repurpose with purpose

With the fast-paced nature of social media, your business’ post can get lost in a viewer’s feed within minutes. Re-posting the same message at different times and even on different days helps ensure your content reaches as many people as possible. Best practices include waiting at least eight hours before duplicating content, sharing one or two other posts between duplicates, and using different headlines and images to convey the same message.

5. Be human

While automation can be a great time-saver, your customers want to know they are dealing with real people who care about their concerns. Time spent answering online questions, addressing complaints and solving problems is time well-spent.

The customer who posted a comment feels listened to, and others viewing your feed gain confidence in your company’s customer service.

Top 10 Sales People on Twitter to Help You Grow Your Biz

Small Business Twitter Accounts

Over 320 million people actively use Twitter each month, but only a select few use it well. It’s not easy to limit your self-promotion to 140 characters per tweet, yet there are some in business who have mastered this platform as a way to connect with both with the masses and on a personal level. Here are the top ten sales people on Twitter that can help you grow your business.

1) Tibor Shanto @tiborshanto

Tibor Shanto is the Chief Sales Officer of Renbor Sales Solutions, in addition to being an author, recognized speaker, and in-demand trainer. Prior to Renbor, Tibor spent 10 years with Dow Jones.

2) Geoffrey James @sales_source

Recognized by Forbes as one of the world’s “Top 40 Marketing Talent”, Geoffrey James writes a column for Inc.com, has a weekly newsletter, and has written the book “Business Without the Bullsh*t”.

3) Paul McCord @paul_mccord

Also recognized by Forbes as a “Top Social Selling Talent”, Paul McCord excels in training B2B sellers and sales teams in finding and connecting with targeted prospects.

4) Dan Waldschmidt @danwaldo

Dan Waldschmidt is equal parts motivator, deal maker, and strategizer. This best-selling author, and prolific runner, owns EdgyConversations.com, which is a best-selling book (and website) based on his study of achievement and overcoming obstacles.

5) Top Sales World @topsalesworld

Top Sales World is an international community of sales professionals who are dedicated to providing free daily resources from the industry’s most active and successful sales experts.

6) Art Sobczak @artsobczak

Art Sobczak owns Business By Phone Inc. and SmartCalling.com, which concentrates on the “art” of cold calling and making sales over the phone. Sobczak has conducted over 1,500 training programs and offers many products and tips for sales professionals.

7) Keith Rosen @keithrosen

Keith Rosen is the CEO of Profit Builders and the author of the award-winning book “Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions”. Both Inc. magazine and Fast Company have named Keith one of the five most influential executive coaches.

8) Craig Rosenberg @funnelholic

Craig Rosenberg is the Chief Analyst at TOPO, a research and advisory firm for sales and marketing professionals. He engages on Twitter daily to share sales and marketing insights.

9) Ardath Albee @ardath421

The CEO and B2B Marketing Strategist for Marketing Interactions Inc., Aradath Albee works with B2B companies with complex sales to help develop compelling digital marketing strategies.

10) Mark Hunter @thesaleshunter

Mark Hunter is an independent consultant, a sought after speaker, and an award-winning author. He has worked with global leaders like Coca-Cola, Mattel, and Kawasaki on their sales strategies and continues to share his insights on various online platforms.

Savvy Storage: Top 10 Cloud-Based Solutions For Small Businesses in 2016

In terms of improving productivity, few inventions have been as revolutionary as the cloud. By providing storage as a remote service, the cloud lets companies avoid equipment failure and access their files from anywhere in the world. The following 10 companies provide convenient, innovative cloud storage for small businesses:

1. Zip Cloud

zipcloud-storage

Though not entirely free, Zip Cloud is more than worth it for the sheer amount of secure space it offers. For $72 a month, you receive half a terabyte of space on up to 20 computers.

2. Google Drive

google-drive-storage

Small businesses love Google Drive because it is closely integrated with other Google services, including Gmail, Hangouts, and Google+. Between all of these services, you receive 15 gigabytes of space.

3. Box

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Designed specifically for business storage, Box is one of the best-value free storage products. Business clients receive 10 gigabytes of space free of charge, while individuals have 250 megabytes. It is thus ideal for small businesses that handle large volumes of data.

4. Qihoo

360-cloud-storage

Qihoo calculates its storage space in terabytes, leaving all other cloud storing companies in the dust. The only reason it is not at the top of our list is that this storage space is notoriously insecure, making it inappropriate for businesses that store sensitive information. If you need to store information that isn’t sensitive, however, Qihoo is your best bet.

5. ADrive

adrive-cloud-storage

ADrive offers 50 gigabytes of space for free, which is more than most secure storage sites. The only downside is that unless you pay for a more advanced service, you have to put up with constant ads.

6. Evernote

evernote-cloud-storage

Although it offers less space than most cloud services, Evernote more than makes up for this with its convenience. If your business uses Windows or Mac computers or Android, iOS, or Windows phones, you can download Evernote free of charge. Each employee can upload up to 60 megabytes of data each month. You can also upload documents and scan into Evernote directly from Ambir scanners.

7. Dropbox

dropbox-storage

Dropbox provides a convenient forum for document storage and retrieval. You can access this program from any device, regardless of your location. As with Evernote, you can use Ambir scanners to upload documents directly to Drobox.

8. Ubuntu One

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Ideal for businesses with limited budgets,  Ubuntu offers 5 gigabytes of free storage space. If you need more, you can order 20 gigabytes for only $3 a month or $30 a year.

9. JustCloud

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With automated file backups, JustCloud is ideal if you can’t take a chance on forgetting to store something.

10. Carbonite

carbonite-storage

Carbonite is designed to store a wide range of documents, from spreadsheets to videos to complex accounting programs. It is one of the pricier cloud products on the market, costing between $60 and $800 per year depending on the plan.