A best practice for engaging small business customers in social media is to regularly post updates on social media sites like, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, etc. Small businesses, entrepreneurs and sole proprietors often have a hard enough time just providing services without having to continually update their social sites!
The ever improving world of online marketing has developed a vast array of tools to help businesses large and small to meet this challenge. Some of the big boys in the room like HubSpot and Wildfire by Google allow maximum channel integration and advanced analytics for premium prices. Hubspot’s entry level plan begins at $200/month. But, small businesses often want to test the waters with a free or very low cost application.
One popular and free social media scheduler is HootSuite.com. Hootsuite’s free package allows monitoring and management of up to 5 social media sites from a single web browser interface and message scheduling. Message scheduling allows posting of Facebook and Twitter message at future dates. Facebook currently has this functionality, but the beautiful thing about Hootsuite, and other social media management tools, is that a user can post future messages across numerous platforms using a single browser window.
Hootsuite recently developed (August 2012) a new “AutoSchedule” feature which allows the software to pick an optimal time to post your submission during the day. Hopefully Hootsuite will allow this same functionality for future date posts! Hootsuite is accepting ‘votes’ and feedback on this enhancement now on their help desk site here: http://bit.ly/S3amaL
The image below shows the web-based autoschedule window turned off. Notice the calendar appears below the message box.
In this image the AutoScheduling is turned on. Notice the calendar disappears.
The next image shows the Hootsuite monitoring window for my business Twitter account. (Click to view full size)