Since its inception around the year 1996, social media as a whole phenomenon has influenced customers greatly. It is currently being used by more than half of the entire population of the world and its user base has almost tripled in amount over the last decade passing 3.8 Billion users as of 2020. And needless to say, these numbers are only slated to increase over the coming years.
Considering the usage of social media over the past few years, the growth rate is around 12.5% in a year, more so since 2015.
And it is this increasingly inclined social media usage trend that led to the emergence of the concepts of social selling and social CRM in business. As more and more of customers started spending time on social media channels, companies felt the need to target customers through the very channels that they are most active in.
A major shift in focus
The emergence of interesting, fun and convenient social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter led to the significant shift of customer attention from mass media to social networking sites.
Back in the day, companies used to target customers with creative advertisements on TV and print media, where a direct selling approach was used to target customers. Of course it used to effective to a great extent given the lack of means for customers to actually connect with the people behind the brands that they liked.
However, as social media gained mass popularity, and as people began spending more time on their favourite channels, it necessitated a major shift in focus from one-way advertisement channels to social networking for effective lead generation. It led to a space where conversations happened between customers and brands – selling was no longer a one way street and advertisements stopped being radio made.
As we look at social media today, customers have the window to communicate with brands and voice their take on new product adverts, making selling a two-way street.
This is what inevitably led to the rise of social selling as a concept where companies make use of social media to create content and promote their products to induce customers to purchase. Naturally, it involves more of open conversations and transparent ways.
With the increase in use of social media channels where features like DMs and live videos enable customers to directly get in touch with the human faces of brands, customers have grown to be more intelligent, careful and particular about the companies they work with.
This was probably what led companies to rethink their entire approach with selling, as direct product pitches completely stopped working.
This in turn led to the emergence of social CRM, and a whole marketing concept revolving around taking care of the precious relationship with customers.
It is always a combination of a good social CRM strategy and a good social media marketing campaign along with the right tools that facilitate successful social selling.
“You can buy attention (advertising). You can beg for attention from the media (PR). You can bug people one at a time to get attention (sales). Or you can earn attention by creating something interesting and valuable and then publishing it online for free” – David Meerman Scott
SMR Social share their 5 killer social media marketing tips to keep in mind for 2021 in this post.
The need for an efficient social media marketing platform
Statistics suggest that the average social media user holds 8.6 social media accounts.
This means that the average person is consuming content including product reviews, product info and company info from up to 8 platforms throughout social media channels.
This fuels the need for businesses to be active across all of the commonly used channels according to their own user demographics in order to make the biggest impact.
And it would be impossible to handle content and users on all channels manually unless large social media teams are recruited, which is not a feasible or cost effective option at all.
For the same reason, companies resort to multi-functional social media marketing platforms to augment their social media efforts. By doing so, marketers not only get to create and post content across a number of platforms and be active on all at the same time, they also get to take full advantage of their social media presence, by using other tools like social listening and analytics.
Some of the best social media marketing platforms offer seamless integrations with all popular social media channels, which let you listen in on conversations happening in every place associated with your industry. On top of that, they offer insightful analytics and reports on how you fared in your social media campaigns, so that you can identify anomalies and make improvements as you go.
For example, Hipsocial is one of the most efficient and feature-rich social media marketing platforms in the market today, offering well-designed social posting and scheduling features, with which you can create and post content across several platforms all at once. Interestingly it also offers a unique time zone selection feature, with which you can choose time zones to post content across multiple countries to generate the most engagement.
It also comes with social engagement features like Smart Finder that allows you to find and engage with the right people for your products or services. Apart from that it also has intelligent social listening features and analytics as well.
What you need to look for in a good social media marketing platform in 2021
In 2021, more than anything you’ll need the best tools for automation and content creation across multiple social media platforms all at once. You will also need some intelligent features to get involved in community conversations, create proactive content and communicate promptly with customers. Above everything you’ll also need customizability to fine tune your solution to the unique needs of your team, and scalable capabilities to facilitate growth, which is a rapid phenomenon in social media.
Here are some essential features to look for:
- Social media management
- Social listening
- Engagement features
- Insightful analytics
- Ease of use
- Social scheduling
On that note, here are our top 12 best social media marketing platforms to choose from in 2021.
12 best social media marketing platforms for 2021
Hipsocial as mentioned before, is one of the most popular and excellent social media marketing platforms offering a multitude of features to facilitate efficient social media management. From content creation to posting and scheduling to social listening and even engagement analytics, Hipsocial provides a holistic and centralized tool from which to manage several platforms all at once. It allows you to post content consistently and stay active for your followers, while keeping a close eye on competition as well. It also lets you analyse and identify market gaps and industry trends, with which you can possibly model new product uses or provide new services as well. Above all, it provides smart analytics including engagement reports, and URL tracking details to let you monitor your overall social media performance and take solid data driven decisions to improve.
2. Content Cal
Content Cal is an effective social media marketing platform and calendar that lets you manage all your social media channels in a more organized and systematic way. You can maintain separate calendars for each client or customer with Content Cal, with each calendar holding one of each social media network. It comprises a content hub where you can create and organize posts, with complete collaboration features to facilitate team work. It also comes with separate modules for analytics and for customer inquiries.
3. Agora Pulse
Agora Pulse is another feature packed social media marketing platform that comes with all-encompassing content posting, scheduling, subscriber management and analytics capabilities. It also provides useful integrations with a number of relevant applications. It lets you create and post content across multiple platforms just like any other solution, in addition to certain unique features like contact management. It also offers a reporting solution to measure performance.
Buffer is a big name in the list of social media marketing platforms. It has been in existence for quite a while now, and it is currently being used by a number of companies across the world. It comprises two segments for publishing and analysis, where the publish segment focuses on planning, creating, collaborating and publishing content, and the analysis segment focuses on measuring performance. It is designed in two segments so that companies can choose either one or both segments for their business.
Hootsuite is also a widely used social media marketing platform that comes with some amazing features covering content creation, publishing, engagement, monitoring and analysing. It also features intelligent integrations with creative tools like Canva, with which marketers can easily create attractive content shareables for different channels. Apart from that the solution also offers integrations with full-blown marketing automation solutions as well, such as with SalesForce and help desk solutions like Zendesk.
Sendible is a top notch cloud based social media marketing platform that is easy to install and can be accessed from anywhere using any device. It comes with well-thought out tools for content creation, posting and scheduling across multiple channels along with smart reporting tools to analyse important metrics and optimize performance. It also features ample engagement tools to find the right people and boost engagement.
Hubspot offers a feature packed social media marketing solution as part of its all-encompassing marketing automation solution. As is the case with all of Hubspot’s marketing segments, it offers powerful features to enable marketers to get a good grip over their social media activities. Unsurprisingly, the tool offers seamless integrations with other solutions like email marketing, with which you can easily sync data and pursue leads from different directions. In its social media marketing hub, it offers tools to create and publish content on multiple channels and reporting capabilities.
8. Sprout Social
Sprout Social is yet another social media marketing platform that offers well-designed and thoughtful features to reach out to more customers, generate more leads, boost engagement and also track the success of social media campaigns. It offers integrations with every other creative and automation solution you need including Zendesk, SalesForce, Bitly and Feedly. And above all it offers some interesting reporting tools to measure engagement, track traffic etc.
9. Social Pilot
Social Pilot, just like all amazing social media marketing platforms offers excellent tools for content creation, posting, scheduling and team collaboration. In addition it features useful integrations with tools like Bitly, Canva and Feedly. Above all, it offers Zapier integration as well, with which you can further enhance its collaborative capabilities. Multiple account management and intelligent analytics are some of its other amazing features.
10. Zoho Social
Zoho Social is a social media marketing platform that is most known for its super easy to use interface. It offers tools to plan and create content, along with scheduling and analyzing features to allow you to create and execute fully optimized social media marketing campaigns. Its analytics are known to be quite powerful in terms of assisting with data driven decisions. In addition, it offers social media monitoring capabilities as well, in order to help you stay ahead in your industry.
SEMRush offers an all-encompassing marketing tool that comes with a separate content management and social media marketing platform. Apart from regular content creation, publishing and scheduling modules, it also provides tools to manage social media ads, measure performance and keep an eye on competitor activities as well. Its analytics tool is one of the most insightful ones offering details like engagement metrics, follower details and reach.
YouScan is a unique social media marketing platform that offers AI based capabilities for image recognition and Natural Language Processing. It offers assistance with social media monitoring to take advantage of community conversations and keep an eye on market trends, along with smart analytics to help you measure performance. Its primary goal is to allow you to listen in on consumer conversations and make appropriate marketing decisions.
As is evident from the above 12 solutions, there is no limit to the possibilities coming from using an efficient social media marketing platform. The challenge is to use the right tools with the right strategies to boost engagement and build a loyal social media customer base. Once you’ve mastered the art of building and nurturing relationships through social media, making a sale would naturally fall into place in the equation.