BEST Social Media Tools: Are You Using Them? (Collective Mastermind)

We are talking social media tools today!

In our panel today:

Questions we’ve been discussing:

Q. Which tools let you multi-task between various social media sites?

shannonA. ldylarke (SEO Consultant)

For managing my social media tasks, I have found Hootsuite to be the most cost effective for multiple accounts. I prefer Hootsuite because I can add unlimited social media accounts for Twitter, Facebook AND Google Plus. When I post content via social media, I can select up to 5 accounts to post to at once. For instance, I have a personal Twitter account and a site related Twitter account. When I post content related to SEO, I want to post to those two different Twitter accounts, the site’s Facebook and Google Plus pages as well – for a total of 4/5 accounts per posting. All done at the same time and from the same place.

A. BarbaraBoser (CEO)

I am an avid user of Hootsuite. :) I use the bulk scheduler to upload my monthly status updates. I have all of my networks added to Hootsuite and can easily go back and forth between each. Mind you I have never used anything else, but Hootsuite serves it’s purpose for me and does exactly what I need. I typically get all of my statuses updates and then review each one then add images. Doing this for the month can take about 3 hours, but it is well worth the time. I feel that it has helped me immensely in terms of building my brand.

A. Meghan Riley (I Love Social Media Tools!)

I primarily use Hootsuite, because I can set up my social media sites to appear on separate tabs that I can quickly flip between. It doesn’t have all the features I want, but it helps me see multiple accounts at once, so I can keep on top of trends and information I might want to share. It also allows me to schedule multiple updates at once, which really comes in handy when I know I’m going to be away from the computer for an extended period of time. I use it for my personal accounts and the accounts for my real estate team.

Q. Are you using any scheduling tools?

shannonA. ldylarke (SEO Consultant)

Hootsuite Pro also allows me to schedule posts quickly and easily. I have also used Buffer, but why pay for more services when you can get the same thing done at the same place? I find Hootsuite more than able to handle all of my usual social media tasks for all of my social media profiles. Why go anywhere else to use a tool when one can use a single tool to do everything one needs to do all at the same place and at the same time? Hootsuite Pro is not only reasonably priced, but it provides everything I need.

A. Meghan Riley (I Love Social Media Tools!)

As I mentioned before, I use Hootsuite to schedule posts when I know I’m not going to be near the computer for an extended period of time, like on the weekends or days I’m at luncheon events. I can’t schedule all of the posts types I like, so if I need to post, say, a video, I’ll schedule it directly through the Facebook scheduling tool. Hootsuite also allows you to shorten URLs in the program, which helps with tracking click-thru’s. But, when possible, I try to post directly to a social media site, because they often have more options to choose from, like the picture to use while posting on Google Plus.

A. ClaytonWood (Managing Partner)

We schedule our social media posts using Hootsuite. Since we’re a content marketing company, we manage dozens of different social media projects every day. This helps us stay on top of our posts. The thing I like about Hootsuite is that you can monitor different social feeds and networks in 1 simple view.

This allows me to publish great copy for my clients regardless of where they are located around the world. Timing is everything in social and this tool helps ‘strike while the iron is hot’. We use the Hootsuite Enterprise solution because of the flexibility and scale it brings to our organization.

Q. Do you use any tools to track who of your followers have influence?

shannonA. ldylarke (SEO Consultant)

I don’t really track which of my followers have influence. I know who is noteworthy in my industry because their name pops up in social media or is well-known. If I needed to find out who was most influential, I could refer to (I do get notifications now from this site), Followerwonk, or Klout. I find is more than sufficient for me when I want to know more about a specific social media profile or account. I have searched for other social media tools that help you find influential profiles to follow, but I always end up back using just Hootsuite.

A. ClaytonWood (Managing Partner)

I like Kred, as a social influence tool. This tool measures both social influence and outreach on the same platform. With it’s influence metrics it mainly relies on retweets, follows, replies and mentions on Twitter. The same goes for how it measures Facebook.

The way it measures outreach is interesting too. it’s a total of how much you retweet, share, reply and mention other people. This way, it can tell you how much your effecting other feeds. Each social action you or your followers make gets a score. On the activity page you can see what actions specifically have contributed to your over all Kred score.

Q. Best tools to manage and grow social media interactions?

shannonA. ldylarke (SEO Consultant)

I like to manage and grow my Twitter accounts. I especially like the “consider to re-engage” feature. It lists who you haven’t spoken to for a while and will send a “hello, how are you?” kind of Tweet. This is especially helpful to remind you to keep in contact with those you want to. I also use to unfollow people who are either not following me back, or who don’t make very many updates (or at least fairly frequent updates) to their social media account. No point following these kinds of accounts. If they aren’t interacting much, then there’s no point keeping them on your social media list.

A. Kyle Sanders (Head of Search)

We primarily deal with clients in the industrial and mechanical spaces and LinkedIn has become an increasingly important channel for us over the last couple years. A colleague suggested trying Rapportive and it has proven to be a great asset. Cannot recommend it enough. Not only are we able to seamlessly connect via LinkedIn without a opening a separate tab (I have a proclivity for too many tabs), we’re privy to a litany of contact information and social updates, which basically morphs Gmail into a micro-CRM.

For anyone working client/customer management, it’s a great plugin that can streamline your communications and makes Gmail more useful and interesting. Plus, it’s free.

A. ClaytonWood (Managing Partner)

I use Followerwonk for helping to grow interaction with relevance. It’s a great tool because I can find active people with similar views or interests and start creating great relationships based around that. My strategy is basically to find, connect and learn from the person based on his tweets.

Research is the key to using this tool. So make sure you find the profile’s website, and other social media outlets. You want to build quality connections so that you can learn more about your field. There is a great ‘retweet’ tool in Followerwonk that allows you to filter our more spammy type of Twitter accounts.

Q. Any other social media tools you are using on a regular basis? Please share!

donA. Don Sturgill (Writer)

Hootsuite has been my go-to tool for monitoring Twitter accounts … and I love TwChat for group chats. My real consternation is cutting loose enough time to stay in touch across multiple platforms. I look forward to tips from other members about time-saving tools and methods. I know social media interaction is important, but the time drain can be significant. Being able to simultaneously post across multiple social sites can be helpful … but it can also be redundant.

Another thing: It may be that listening is as valuable (or even more valuable) than talking on social media. Tools that allow me to search for pertinent terms and follow/join the conversation can be critical to social media success.

shannonA. ldylarke (SEO Consultant) is really the only other social media tool I’m using. Other than Hootsuite Pro, I sometimes use RebelMouse but more often, to find and share relevant content to my followers.

While I understand why there is a minimum word requirement, I find I have to try to be overly wordy just to meet it. Especially where my answers do not require elaboration. Just saying.

A. Steve Toth (Content Marketing Manager)

Facebook text detection: This is a tool my company TechWyse built. It allows you to see if your ads meet Facebook’s 20% text guidelines. The tool has saved people thousands of hours of revising their ads due to them being rejected for having too much text.

We were written up in All and our tool has a steady user base that swears by it.

It works by placing a grid over you ad and it’s up to you to “punch out” the areas that have text. Once you have reached 20% of the area, the tool alerts you and it’s up to you to alter the image.

This tool is very handy for designers and social media managers. We hope your readers enjoy it, too.

A. Meghan Riley (I Love Social Media Tools!) is my new favorite tool, because it allows me to create visually appealing graphics quickly right in my browser. There are templates to choose from or you can build a graphic from the bottom up. You can choose from multiple sizes of graphics (Facebook Post, G+ Cover Photo, Business Card, Blog Graphic, Pinterest Graphic, etc.). There are hundreds of free pieces to choose from (frames, stamps, text bubbles, infographic pieces, etc.) or upload your own. Additionally, you can choose from many other pictures and artwork, and pay $1 each for them, which is pretty cheap considering what stock photo sites are charging nowadays. I definitely recommend everyone checking them out.

A. ClaytonWood (Managing Partner)

I took the plunge and start using Signals from HubSpot. I’d classify it as ‘social’ because it shows you when people open your emails, and with the Insights tool, you can see social media data on any website your browsing in 1 click. From what I can tell, it’s using a LinkedIn API or something third party to gather all the website data and display it for you in 1 click.

Information like how large the company is, how many people work there, how old is the company, and what social connections do you have with the company is all there to see. It’s pretty awesome!

What’s your take? Please share in the comments below!

Simplify: Email Marketing Using Autoresponders 101

Are you depending on Google to keep sending you traffic? What if you stop ranking so well? Or your site gets a penalty? Maybe you are paying for traffic over and over. Why would you want to do that? You could be capturing each visitor to your list and keeping them there. That is what auto-responders do.

By offering a series of useful email messages to your visitors you can get them to give you their email address and keep them coming back. The best way to grow your list is to offer something of value. At one time most people used eBooks. The problem with that is the high percentage of subscribers who download what you offer and then immediately unsubscribe. If you send the same information as an autoresponder series, your subscribers have to stay on your list.

This works – but many are not doing this as well as they could. Think about the emails you receive. Personally, I read the short ones as soon as I open them. But the long ones I often save for “later” – but that “later” never comes. I bet many other people do that, too.

Goal: Get Your Emails Opened

The goal is to get your emails opened. By sending really short emails your subscribers will be more likely to open them. They may not do this consciously, but subconsciously they’ll associate your emails with “short and painless”. That is what you want. Their goal is to get information in easily digested bites.

Your goal is to keep them opening or at least wanting to receive your emails so when they are ready to buy what you offer they remember you. Search traffic converts because people use it when they’re ready to buy. If they remember you they won’t need to search – they can just click on your link in your emails.

Remember to ALWAYS include a link back to your site!

Simplify the Process

What is easy gets done more often. The best way to create your autoresponder series is to use a template you can edit each time. That way your header, logo, slogan, social sharing buttons, and links to your social networking accounts are already in place. You just edit the text.

Email solutions providers are making templates easier to use. There is a video about autoresponders that explains the many features that are now built into templates. If you make your messages flow in a sequence, your subscribers will be more likely to be happy to receive them. Here’s also a quick and sweet intro to autoresponders by ProBlogger.

One way to do that is to write a how-to and then break it up into small sections. Or you can make a list of priorities in order and write each one separately. Do whatever works best for you. Remember to always focus on what your potential buyers want – NOT what you want.

Give your subscribers what they want to receive and you can keep them on your list reminding them to choose your company. Over time you build trust that increases conversions. Do this consistently and your profits will grow.

Mobile Responsiveness

Studies continue to show increases in the percentage of email being opened on smartphones. Make sure you have updated all your email templates and landing pages to work on mobile devices.

Do not assume they work. You need to actually test them on as many devices as possible. Verify that the header, images, and videos resize correctly. If they don’t you will need to update your site with new code, a new theme, or plugins.

Click on the social media accounts and verify they take your readers to each specific social account. Test every social sharing button – or at least the major platforms – and ensure that it works as expected. Configure shared tweets to include your Twitter username and make sure images share properly on Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

Repeat Visitors Are More Likely to Buy

Building your list, setting up autoresponders, and creating actual relationships with your visitors can turn missed opportunities into leads and sales. You must keep them coming back to buy.

Google removing author pictures from search: Your input?

Last week Google announced removing author pictures from search results while keeping the author name. Seeing author pictures within search results was a huge competitive advantage, so no wonder this step was criticized by many authors who were participating in Google Authorship feature.

From the good news: Participating is Authorship has been easier…

  • If previously you could never be sure if your author markup will make it to the SERPs, now all you need is to have your authorship correctly set-up (which may be a bad thing too as, let’s face it, it’s easier to have for anyone now)
  • If previously you could only have ONE authorship snippet per SERPs, now you’ll all of them (if several of your articles have been ranked, all of them will have your name)

I have been discussing this issue around the web and have collected some opinions. My Google Plus thread has lots of great insights, please check it out:


 I especially liked this one from Shelly Cihan:

I support the removal. Knowing what a person looks like should not impact whether or not you click on a result in the SERP. It accentuated an already too vain society.

[Hard to disagree: Having an advantage in SERPs because your headshot looks nice doesn't seem fair at all!]

I have also collected some opinions from MyBlogU below:

Our interviewees were answering the following questions:

Let’s see what they think:

Q. Do you believe Google has done that to optimize for mobile devices? Why not? :)

David FaltzA. David Faltz (Founder White Rabbit Marketing. Search Engine & Branding Optimization (SEBO) Marketer)

I do believe that mobile probably did play some part in their decision to remove author images, but that is not the whole story for sure. They have been toying with author images for while now, and they have not gotten people to conform as they wanted. With low adoption rates by what Google would consider “real authors,”  and more people using it as a marketing tactic to stand out from he crowd, Google decided “enough was enough!” 

Swayam DasA. Swayam Das (Social Media Marketer)

Umm.. I really don’t think so ! Google always has a reasonable logic working behind their each and every move. So I’ll just wait and see how things work out on the mobile space! Mobile searches results tend to be location oriented so I don’t see much of a movement without any Authorship pics.

Marc NashaatA. Marc Nashaat (Enterprise Marketing Consultant)

No, that’s not very likely. Google uses device detection to decide whether to serve up their mobile layout vs. desktop and they could just as easily style mobile to exclude authorship snippets. I don’t think it’s a matter of consistency as Google has been preaching the importance of different user experiences for mobile vs desktop for years now. 

Paul ShapiroA. Paul Shapiro (SEO Director at Catalyst)

I was a bit baffled at the decision to remove the author images from the SERP. I was a found believer that when Vic Gundotra left Google, it was not the end of Google+.

This change however, had me second guessing the future of the platform. Surely, the author images were a HUGE incentive for Google+ usage. Why in the world would they choose to remove one of it’s most significant features?

I have a number of theories beyond the typical answer of it helping pretify the SERP or creating a better mobile search experience:

  1. Maybe it was negatively affecting AdWords CTR.
  2. Google wants more eyes on knowledge graph.
  3. Now that x number of people are using authorship, they care less about incentivizing it’s use or perhaps it started to lead to spammy usage.
  4. It detracted from the CTR of the ranking algorithm. Shouldn’t position 1 get more clicks than position 2? What if it weren’t the case due to an author image?
  5. Google wants to push personalized searches even more and the inclusion of images in those searches actually detracted from this. People would click on personalized search results much too often compared to regular results. They want them to be “blind” to it, by making it visually more integrated.
  6. Google is making big changes to Google+ and how it is integrated with other Google products. There are more big changes coming! 

Dave RekucA. Dave Rekuc (Marketing Director)

Probably not, if it were a mobile only difference, Google would only roll the change out to mobile devices, they’re smart enough not to treat their entire search audience as one unit.  I think what’s happened is a feature with good intentions wound up driving results that didn’t actually favor a better search experience, plain and simple.  Mediocre articles with author mark-up caught the eye in search results and good sites that were ignoring the mark-up got passed up.

I’m sure there are 1,001 conspiracy theories that believe that Google rolled out such strong authorship mark-up in their SERPS to lure contributors to Google +.  Totally possible, completely unprovable.  Whether it did or didn’t I think it’s fair to assume that Google + is here to stay and that ignoring authorship mark-up, even after losing the author’s image, is a fool’s errand.  We know the web is getting more social and we know Google is paying attention now, it’s easy to implement, I can’t see why an author should ignore it.

Q. Do you believe @JohnMu that will not affect click-through? Why not? :)

David FaltzA. David Faltz (Founder White Rabbit Marketing. Search Engine & Branding Optimization (SEBO) Marketer)

Absolutely not! Google is always trying to convince us they are not the big bad corporation, whose interests are aligned with ours. Though I respect John Mueller, I do believe this is just PR. There has been all kinds of testing done by 3rd parties already, that already confirmed author images increase CTR. How could it not have?! It was a fantastic equalizer in terms putting less emphasis on where you ranked on any particular SERP. 

Swayam DasA. Swayam Das (Social Media Marketer)

I do not believe in the fact that CTRs won’t be affected. Primarily because if I place myself in the Searcher’s position I would definitely click on results that had images beside them. To my eyes they serve as a signal of being genuine,  someone that holds authority.  For example, if I search for “diet pills” and amongst the 10 results I see a doctor’s pic beside a site then I’ll definitely click on that ignoring others. The reason is for a normal user he/she won’t be knowing which is an authority site.

Marc NashaatA. Marc Nashaat (Enterprise Marketing Consultant)

Not particularly, putting aside the case studies, common sense tells us that a result with an image is going to stand out more than a plain text result. When things stand out, they get more attention. Pretty simple. I’m also curious what these observations were based on; whether they were SERPs where all (or most) listings had authorship images. If so, it’s possible that you wouldn’t see significantly higher CTR’s than on a SERP with all plain text listings. 

It’s hard to come up with alterior motives for Google on this front, maybe they’ve found that authorship detracts from ad clicks, but that’s just entirely speculation. 

Paul ShapiroA. Paul Shapiro (SEO Director at Catalyst)

The first thing I thought when I heard John Mueller say that the removal of author images in the SERP wouldn’t affect click-through rate was “Okay, that’s easy enough to test”. I doubted that Google would want to make a false claim about something that is so easily tested. Someone will release a study on this subject and we’ll know the truth soon enough.

Dave RekucA. Dave Rekuc (Marketing Director)

I don’t believe that even a little bit.  On a relatively clean search results page, you’re going to tell me that an author’s image doesn’t catch the eye?  In eye tracking studies, human faces come up all the time as one of the first places the eye goes.  We’re definitely going to see a drop in CTR on our articles.  Everyone is losing the article picture at the same time and that may soften the blow, but not every search result contained the mark-up and that’s where we lose our competitive advantage.

Q. Please share what you feel about that? Will you still care to verify your content after this change?

David FaltzA. David Faltz (Founder White Rabbit Marketing. Search Engine & Branding Optimization (SEBO) Marketer)

Setting up authorship is not really not complicated, and less so if you are working with Worpdress. There are plenty of plugins that make it even easier to implement. I would imagine it will affect adoption and participation rates moving forward. I think for the most part author verification has been a failed experiment that has mostly been used by internet marketers. Google knows that and wants to take away yet another edge from us ;) G+ make be next! lol

Anna FoxA. Anna Fox (Blogger)

Google seems to be still showing up pictures in personalized results: Which means you need to seriously work on your G+ following!

The big news for personalized (logged in to your Google account) search is that _author photos may still show for Google+ posts by people you have in your circles. (h/t to +Joshua Berg). Every other authorship result now looks just like those in the logged out search example.

Swayam DasA. Swayam Das (Social Media Marketer)

This move by Google kind of coincides with the recent Google+ update! Personally I was wondering if this move is directly signalling a cancellation of Google Authorship in the near future. If that is so then I won’t be verifying my content. Has Google just removed author pics from search results or the entire authorship program? Depends!

Marc NashaatA. Marc Nashaat (Enterprise Marketing Consultant)

I don’t agree with the change, but I’ve learned to adapt to the whims of Google. I will definitely still be using authorship markup. If you believe in the future of the knowledge graph, there’s no reason not to. At the very least you’re creating structured data for your content, and that’s never a bad thing. 

Paul ShapiroA. Paul Shapiro (SEO Director at Catalyst)

I’m going to continue to apply authorship to all of my writing. It still gives me a sense of ownership (especially within search) beyond a simple byline. I also think there are advantages beyond the author image. People can click to see other things I’ve written write within the SERP. It affects personalized search results (probably more important than author images honestly), and it open a world of future benefits in semantic search and the possibility of agent rank, should it ever be used beyond indepth articles (which is also a benefit).

My gut is telling me this isn’t the end of Google+, but rather one change of many to come in how Google will interacts with Google+ and how the Google+ team functions as an organization. Interesting times are ahead of us.

Dave RekucA. Dave Rekuc (Marketing Director)

I honestly think it’s crazy to consider not verifying your content just because the short-term benefit of the author’s image has disappeared.  Google has proven a commitment to making Google + work and to making it’s search results more personalized.  They’ve created a way to structure your contributions across the web and personally build an authority that transcends domains.  I think any content creator would still be foolish to ignore authorship at this point.

Now, what’s your input?

Ann Smarty
Ann Smarty