Facebook marketing has become a bit tricky in the past couple of years. Once fairly straightforward, the business-minded brains behind the social network have regularly made changes in how the platform can be used.
Let’s be honest here, Facebook changes in this regard have not been to help small businesses or individuals market themselves. It has been to benefit the big corporations that make the site the most ad revenue. This clearly shows, and while it is possible to improve your online presence, it takes a little more creativity to get there.
Having a dashboard that lets you strategize, analyze, and improve is a big help. Which is why so many social dashboards are popping up all over the place, allowing anyone to get the same benefits as those big corporations for a small monthly price.
These are arguably the best options for savvy Facebook marketers out there who want to scrounge together every benefit possible out of a sometimes finicky social marketing platform.
The All In One Solution
Facebook can be a useful platform for many needs. Here are two platforms that can manage a lot of tasks!
Best feature: LOTS of benefits for free!
MavSocial is an amazing tool that comes for free! I don’t really think there’s any alternative to that… Free accounts come with unlimited (or maybe I just didn’t manage to hit the limit) pages, reports, scheduling options, social inbox and RSS content manager in case you want to semi-automate some of your pages.
MavSocial mostly focuses on visual sharing and apart from Facebook, you can also use it for managing Tumblr, Youtube, Twitter, Linkedin and Instagram.
I love MavSocial insights that somehow is easier to digest that built-in Facebook insights. It appears my best day is Wednesday
Best feature: Column-based dashboards which work great for managing multiple accounts and teams
Perhaps the most obvious of the suggested dashboards, Hootsuite has long since been a staple in the analytics world. It is also a more complete dashboard that has a reputation for excellence. They are compatible with several social networks, and can be enhanced with others through downloadable apps.
Recently, they acquired the rights to Instagram, though the features aren’t great (hopefully they get better). They don’t have access to Pinterest, which is continuing its own battle for analytics relevance with their patented tools. But you can connect with Tailwind, which makes analyzing Pinterest possible.
They also offer scheduled posts, teams, task management, URL engagement figures, and a whole lot more than even current Pro users will probably realize. You have to buy reports with credits, which you have a limited number of. But once you have created those reports they are live updating, which is free.
If you do sign up for Hootsuite, it is recommended that you check out their webinars. Not only do they have plenty that deal with the latest techniques in improving your social media tactics, but they have a whole series on their features. When my team watched the features webinar, we had no idea that it was capable of even half of what it was.
You can also find analytics webinars. These will educate you on what those numbers really mean, how you can use them to narrow strategy, and where you might be failing (and not even know it).
The major drawback of Hootsuite is the need to use their own shortener (at least within their most affordable package).
In the end, Hootsuite has its issues. But it is still a very solid dashboard that is popular for a reason. Just be sure you are aware of what it can do, and that you watch those webinars to get the most out of what you pay for it.
- Sprout Social is the closest competitor to Hootsuite but it costs more. It has better analytics though which you don’t get to pay more for.
- Oktopost is not really competitor to either Hootsuite or Sprout Social because it targets B2B sector and does a great job at that. They emphasize on advanced lead tracking features, analytics and task management.
The Basic – But Functional – Buddy
Best feature: Save time on scheduling by “buffering” (spacing out updates)
Buffer doesn’t do a whole lot, on the surface. It is a scheduling dashboard that acts on a set schedule. You go in, decide how often you want to post to your social accounts, and what time they go out each day. Then you fill up your queue with posts or links, and it will “buffer” them out during your set times.
You don’t have to manually set the schedule for each post. In fact, I know plenty of marketers who use Buffer to keep their Facebook and other accounts consistently posting, then use Hootsuite or other dashboards for scheduling more targeting posts. The strategy works.
Another reason to go for Buffer is it is currently the only way to schedule posts for Google Plus. That particular network is pretty controversial, and you will find staunch defenders and dissenters around every corner. Especially marketers, who have struggled for years to carve out an effective strategy that works across the board there.
If you do plan on integrating Facebook and Google Plus strategies, Buffer is the only way to do it. On the plus side, it is really cheap. You can use their free version, or pay the $10 per month for the Awesome Plan, which allows up to 100 posts on 10 different social networks.
The major drawback of Buffer is that for $10 you can only add 12 profiles overall (including pages).
The Progress Reporter
Best feature: The ability to monitor stats of the unlimited number of Facebook profiles and pages within one dashboard.
There is a ton of data involved in being a Facebook marketer. What do you do with it all? If you have Cyfe, you gather it, analyze it, and use it to see the progress you are making. Not only on Facebook, but across all social networks.
Cyfe can also help you monitor and archive your Facebook ads stats, which is awesome!
You have three levels with Cyfe:
- Tracking – Get all data in one place, from a single dashboard.
- Reports – Easy to understand progress and analytics reports that you can show to a client, boss, or keep for your own records.
- Insights – A look into how your social networks are progressing, so you can start forming patterns in the data.
This is a pretty interesting tool, and having those multiple levels of focus let you settle on what is most important to you and fit your needs.
Apart from Facebook, it supports all sort of other social media (and beyond) data sources, including Youtube, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Google Plus and many more.
Social Dashboards Make The Marketer
If you don’t have a dashboard, you aren’t the best marketer you can be. This goes double for anyone looking to work on Facebook specifically. Their analytics tools just aren’t very good, and their reach numbers seem to be largely useless. Engagement is all that matters, and they barely give any data on that, at all.
Try one of these dashboards out, and see how it improves your stats.