Our social media team has been having a great time discovering some social media tech tools that are sure to make your life easier. If you can’t afford to have a professional social media team creating content campaigns and monitoring your social media accounts 24/7, these are some tech tools that the pros use behind the scenes that could make your life easier. MONITORING & POSTING: Sprout Social is the love of my monitoring and posting life. It’s affordable, offers more in depth monitoring and sexier report options than Hoot Suite, and it is idiot proof. If you can use Facebook, you can maneuver your way around the Social Sprout system. Not sure you have mastered it? They give you a 30 day free trial and handy introductory webinar to walk you through it step by step. Need more? The customer service is around the clock. Our rep emailed me at 11PM and 7AM. I was impressed. Throw in that she was funny and I am one happy social media strategist. They don’t have reporting for LinkedIn or Instagram yet, but they are working on it and you’re going to love how this simplifies your ability to know what is happening with your audience in real time. INSTAGRAM ENGAGEMENT: Instagram is a tough platform because it can be so time consuming. You need to be liking, following, and commenting constantly to maximize engagement. Instagress is a handy automation tool that will set you back less than $10 each month. It will automatically like, follow, unfollow, or comment on what you set it to do. It won’t eliminate your need to be posting quality content with appropriate hash tags, but it will save you some serious time. WARNING: Watch your key words and your comments. I was setting up a restaurant and used the key word “hungry” with our pre set comment that “You should come in to try our feast!” Wasn’t even thinking that charities promoting feeding hungry children in third world countries or anorexics would be using that hash tag for totally different reasons. Also, keep it set to slow. For hash tags you can’t beat Tags for Likes, which will help you to begin learning what hash tags will help you promote what photograph. Have a ton of photos and want to time their release? Check out Latergram for scheduling. It is crazy handy and ensures your audience doesn’t get drowned with content. HASH TAG TRACKING: Hash tags are a handy way to track what is happening across all social media platforms. However, checking each platform can be time consuming. Enter Tagboard. Tagboard is a fantastic free tool that tells you what is going on with a specific hash tag in real time. At the #NABShow and want to know what’s happening? Just drop it into the search and there you go. TWITTER ENGAGEMENT: The biggest trend in social media right now is live streaming. Imagine if you are a florist and can live stream your tips for brides shopping for a wedding florist. CEO of a huge company? Take down the corporate veil and answer questions about your products directly from your consumers. Incorporating Periscope or Meerkat as a weekly engagement initiative can help you to connect and engage authentically with your audience. Don’t do it without a plan and have something to say, but be open to taking questions as they come in. PERFECT POST SIZE AND TIMING: On Facebook you want to use less than 40 characters, Twitter less than 100 characters (to make it easily re-tweetable), Instagram at least 8-10 applicable hashtags, LinkedIn less than 25 words, Google+ 50 characters or less, YouTube videos should aim to be 2 1/2 minutes at most, and blogs thrive around 1500 words. The best time to post changes often with analytical data, but if you check in with Klout on the content posting side, it will give you the top three times for that day when you are likely to get the most engagement. We have found that between 1-3PM is best for Facebook posts, 1-3PM for Twitter engagement, Pinterest is any time after 7PM, Google+ 9-11AM, Linked in 7-9AM, and Instagram 12PM-2PM. All of these times are in PST since we are based in Las Vegas, so if you are in a different time zone make sure you account for that. Never post just for the sake of posting. The ultimate guideline is that you should post great content when you have it to post. Some of my highest engagement has come on a Sunday afternoon, which is totally contradictory to all the reports we have. Do you have a social media question? Reach out to me directly on Twitter. We are here to help you connect, engage, and activate more people to become your raving fans.