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Free Social Network Software

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Posted 13th June 2014 at 11:50 AM by imarkedy

Continuing our 12 pillars of Internet marketing series, we arrive at free social network software. There are many providers of social marketing software and what must be decided, before beginning your search, is the end in mind. Software provides many benefits, the best of which is establishing your brand image online and measuring results of marketing efforts. ‘Free’ software helps by defining what you are trying to achieve as well as providing the tools to measure results. Although some may disagree - it is best to test software which offers both free and paid options before committing to either.

Here are a few types of social media (networking) software available;

Social network back link software
If you’ve spent any amount of time searching for back link building software, there is little doubt you’ve read tons of sales hype about the value of building quick back links to your website. We’ll refute any sales copy which over promises and under delivers. Since the Google Penguin and Panda updates, back links are viewed differently than before the update. Previously, websites were rewarded for building links to content. When back links were placed on third party websites, search engines rewarded the builder with higher, organic search rankings. The most ineffective method of landing back links before the updates, was manually going site to site, making an uninformed comment and dropping anchor text rich links. Judging by the number of SPAM comments still received on this website (but always deleted), many still practice this yet are totally wasting their time. Back links, now, must be ‘earned’ which means website visitors, content readers and social media contacts must ‘share’ content from an IP different than yours.

Social network back linking (software based) can still assist with building authority but others must share your content for maximum impact. Unlike software categories which will follow, I will make no recommendations on service providers because most developers are still playing under the ‘old rules’ of online marketing and bring virtually no value to your social media marketing need(s).

Social Listening Software
(also called Social Media Monitoring Software)

This software type is mainly used to determine what others, online, are saying about your company. As an entrepreneur and/or small business, it is critical, at all times, to know what is being said about your company and by whom but most importantly – their intentions for saying it. Key to this strategy is reputation management. Many believe reputation management means ‘damage control’ however, an effective brand strategy often pre-empts the need for damage control! Social listening also helps your company gather valuable insight into content consumption patterns as well as customer and sales lead opinion(s).
Few things are as valuable to your business as is a solid customer intelligence tool.

This can be signing up for something as simple as Google Alerts or investing in software suites such as Viral Heat, Social Mention, Crimson Hexagon or others. Never take lightly that, while listening to customer needs is good, responding is what separates good companies from great ones.

Social Conversation Software
(also called Social Media Engagement Software)

Now that you are listening to what other are saying about your company, it is time to enter the conversation with social media engagement software. One way to effectively manage online conversations about your business is to enter the discussion personally. Entering the conversation doesn’t mean relentlessly bombarding customers and clients with sales offers rather demonstrating expertise on chosen topics. Once this expertise is demonstrated, social media followers will gain enough trust in your solutions to buy. Social media conversations are best managed through aggregating all social media profiles into one place.

Software offers the ability to:

1. Place all online brand building platforms in one place
2. Allow cohesive messaging across all marketing platforms
3. Monitor negative conversations and provide instant rebuttal
4. Monitoring multiple data streams
5. Provide cross platform marketing capability
Best known among this particular software type is Hoot Suite followed closely by Jugnoo, Postling and Social Sprout.

Social Marketing Software

Social marketing software, above any other thing, is about improving the efficiency of work flow. Often, entrepreneurs and small businesses view marketing software as a quick start management solution and while that is true, I once read “the race isn’t to the swift, neither the battle to the strong”. Chief among considerations, long before signing up, is long term marketing strategy. Software shouldn’t be ‘your plan’ rather is used to enhance an already effective strategy. Although I am a believer in using free services, marketing is an area where entrepreneurs should be encouraged to spend money when and where necessary.

With prices ranging anywhere from $6.95 per month (subscription based) to more expensive ‘enterprise’ solutions, there is definitely a price to fit any marketing budget. Two companies which, in my humble opinion, stand out from the rest are Wild Fire and Spred Fast.
Social Bookmarking Software

This marketing solution was listed last, intentionally, for one reason; bookmarking, usually done to both share and back link build, has fallen out of favor with small businesses as well as search engines. When I say ‘out of favor’, it isn’t to suggest it is no longer important only that it shouldn’t be the primary tool to build online brand momentum.

Within the marketing cycle, I’d suggest putting this at the very bottom of your task list because top bookmarking sites such as Digg and Stumbleupon are not the website traffic generating machines they once were. Take the time to build an effective social network marketing plan and make sure, according to your end in mind, social media marketing software is included.

B.D. Dale
Business Coach

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