Engaging in social media marketing is not quite as simple as posting frequently on Twitter and Facebook and hoping for the best. Social media professionals are constantly on the lookout for new ways to expand the online presence and brand image of their clients, but most also realize the value of utilizing outlets that have been around long enough to build up massive followings (like Facebook, which is currently pushing the threshold of 1 billion users). However, like any professional, those who engage in social media marketing need to fill their arsenal with the tools that are going to help them pull off their objectives without a hitch. So here are just a few must-have programs that no social media professional should operate without.
- Google Analytics. A stellar website and/or blog are the basis for any social media enterprise, so that is the best place to start with your social marketing efforts. And while the main job of the social media professional is to promote these online outlets for whatever a client is trying to peddle (goods, services, information, etc.), it is also important to track the effects your efforts are having. This could include following traffic, assessing ROI (upticks in fans, followers, and likes in response to marketing efforts), click-thru, page rank, and so on. Anyone engaging in search engine optimization, keyword customization, or any form of social media marketing should have a host of analytic tools, but Google's is one that you cannot do without.
- Gimp. Although posts, updates, and other forms of written content comprise the majority of most social media efforts, visual or graphic additions can also be important in a supplemental capacity (and for some outlets like Pinterest or Instagram, they are the main attraction). Your first inclination might be to shell out the dough for Photoshop (or other Adobe products like After Effects, if you want to create motion graphics). But there are equally useful forms of graphic editing software that you can get for free. And for the social media pro that is running an independent operation, saving money is a must. Gimp is open-source software that can deliver the graphics functionality you need without the cost of products like Photoshop.
- IconFinder. This is one of those programs that you don't necessarily need, but boy will it come in handy when you're creating content for clients and you want to provide links to their social media outlets so that visitors can "like" them or reach their many online profiles with just a click. If you're searching for a button for any social media outlet, this program will find them in spades.
- GanttProject. Part of running any successful business is managing workflow, and if you have yet to discover the joys of Gantt, now is the time. There are scads of management products out there to help you keep projects, clients, timelines, payments schedules, and so on in order, but GanttProject is widely recognized as one of the best, and considering that the download is free, it will make a good addition to your professional toolbox.
- Microsoft Office. Just because you can find a generic, open office download online doesn't mean you'll get the quality and compatibility that Microsoft products can provide. If you pay for no other software related to your business, don't forego the must-have programs offered by Microsoft and the many options they provide for the independent business person.
Guest Author: Sarah Danielson is a contributing writer for Download Haus, where you can find Open Office download, along with other great free software.