Social media can help tell your story and connect your brand with an audience. However, generating traffic to your brand requires goal-setting and a strategy. Software can help analyse and implement SME social media marketing strategies, but how many organisations use social media tools and what benefits do they get from them?
In this article
- Do SMEs use software to manage their social media presence?
- How is social media software for businesses used?
- What are the benefits of social listening for social media marketing?
- What is social media optimisation, and how do SMEs use it?
- How are SMEs allocating their social media budget to software in 2023?
- Adopting software as part of a social media marketing strategy
How do you figure out what’s working and what’s not in your social media marketing strategy? Navigating the social media landscape can be pretty tricky at times. Decisions of where, when, and what to post can significantly impact the success of a social media campaign. Tools that measure and track the performance of a current social media marketing strategy can help steer some of that decision-making by using data-driven insights, but how many SMEs use them and how effective are they?
To find out how SMEs incorporate software into their social media marketing strategy, GetApp surveyed 250 decision-makers from companies with a presence on social networks. We asked SME owners and managers involved in designing and implementing marketing strategies for their companies what software functions they use, and whether they carry out content optimisation and social listening. Additionally, we look at how much of their social media marketing budget companies plan to allocate to software this year.
The full survey methodology is at the bottom of the page.
Do SMEs use software to manage their social media presence?
The majority (58%) of our survey respondents said they use social media software, and a further 28% said they are not currently using any tools but are planning to —three-quarters (76%) of which plan to start using one within the next two years. The current interest in and uptake of social media software suggests its value and significance for social media marketing.
We asked respondents currently using social media software to rate its importance for their company’s social media strategy. The overwhelming majority of Australian SMEs that employ social media software value its use in social media marketing: 59% said it is ‘important’, and 28% said it is ‘extremely important’ for the success of their company’s social media strategy.
Managing a social media strategy with social media software can reduce trial and error by using data-driven insights for targeted campaigns. We investigated which social media tools companies use and how effective they are in helping determine the platforms a business should communicate through, their target audience, and what content to publish.
How is social media software for businesses used?
Of the respondents looking to adopt social media tools, 45% are interested in using them for social media engagement and 42% for social media planning. Although many social media platforms have built-in functionality related to these aspects, additional tools can save time on tasks such as bulk content uploads and scheduling posts across several platforms. Of the companies that currently leverage social media tools, what functions do they use them for?
Over half of the respondents that use social media software (51%) said their company primarily uses it for social media analytics. This function helps identify social media trends and interpret data on consumer interactions with content on social networks. Social media engagement and community management functions were each cited by 49% of those respondents as the second most used function of social media software.
As a function, social media engagement measures the number of interactions, such as likes, comments, shares, and mentions, customers have with the content you post on social media. Measuring social media engagement can help build customer relationships and increase brand loyalty by showing which type of content generates the most interest. On the other hand, community management software can help create, host, and manage an online community for a company or brand.
17% of the respondents employing social media software use it for social listening, making it the least commonly used function among this group. This low level of adoption may indicate an opportunity for SMEs to gain a competitive advantage if they are looking to start using social media listening tools, as this software can provide companies with valuable information about their audience, industry, and competitors.
What are the benefits of social listening for social media marketing?
Social listening is the process of monitoring social media channels to identify and access what is being said about a company, individual, product, or brand. Although organisations can manually perform social listening by actively looking at and evaluating content on different social media platforms, social listening tools can automate this process more efficiently. This software enables organisations to track, gather, and analyse what’s being said that’s relevant to their industry across various social media channels, review platforms, and the web.
Over half (55%) of the respondents indicated that they currently practise social listening, most of which (62%) use specific software for this purpose, and a further third (33%) are interested in starting to practise it.
The practice of social listening can give organisations valuable insights into how their customers feel not only about their products or services but also those of their competitors. It can enable organisations to improve their products and services by identifying and addressing customer needs. However, its low use as a function of social media software suggests that companies may not be fully aware of its benefits.
Over half (54%) of the respondents who practise social listening said building trust with customers is one of the benefits of using the software. Social listening tools can enable companies to acknowledge mentions from their audience, respond positively, and provide timely customer service on social media. Half the respondents, respectively, cited understanding their audience (50%) and gathering feedback to improve products or services (50%) as a benefit of social listening.
Social listening can give companies a deeper understanding of their industry and what their competitors are discussing to identify any gaps in the market. Nevertheless, of the respondents who practice social listening, competitor analysis and campaign analysis were the least frequently cited (38%) benefits. However, the knowledge gained through social listening coupled with social media optimisation can help businesses develop an actionable plan on how to communicate with their customers.
What is social media optimisation, and how do SMEs use it?
Social media optimisation (SMO) is the process of improving social posts to achieve better results, such as faster follower growth, higher levels of engagement, and more clicks or conversions. When incorporated into a digital marketing strategy, SMO can increase awareness of products and services, and help businesses connect with customers and grow their online presence. 44% of respondents knew what SMO means, and 36% said they knew the name but not the concept.
As SMEs are familiar with the concept of SMO, it's no surprise that the majority (56%) of respondents said their company optimises its content on social media and a further third (32%) are interested in starting to do so. SMO can direct a social media audience to a company’s website through link-building or call-to-action (CTA) buttons. Companies can also optimise for better engagement by analysing the optimal frequency and time to post content, and including, like, share, and comment buttons. Social media marketers can customise their content based on demographic and geographic profiles to appeal to a target market.
Almost all companies (93%) that optimise their content on social media agree that doing so is essential to their social media strategy (55% ‘somewhat agree’ and 38% ‘strongly agree’). Various social media platforms facilitate SMO, and marketers may need to evaluate and consider algorithmic differences, such as ranking signals, and best practices for each platform to make their content stand out.
As we saw in the first article of this two-part series, Facebook and Instagram are the most commonly used social platforms among the SMEs we surveyed. They are also the platforms on which SMEs are most likely to optimise their content, with 48% of respondents that carry out SMO actively optimising content on Facebook, followed by 29% doing so on Instagram. The majority (79%) of respondents that optimise social media said they use software for this purpose.
Using software for specific social media marketing functions such as SMO and social listening often comes at a cost. To help evaluate the importance of software in the social media strategies of Australian SMEs, we delved further into their social media budget plans for the coming year.
How are SMEs allocating their social media budget to software in 2023?
Nearly half (53%) of the respondents said they plan to increase their social media budget in 2023; of those, 58% plan to spend more on paid advertising, and 50% will increase their budget for content creation. With over a third (36%) planning to use the extra budget to purchase software, some of these tools could provide a way for companies to track the return on investment (ROI) on other elements of their investment in social media.
As mentioned previously, 58% of respondents currently use social media software, which may already be costed into their annual budget. However, the increase in spending on social media software may be partly due to the 28% of respondents who are planning to start using it, and some of those that have already incorporated it into their annual budget may be planning to expand their use of tools.
Adopting software as part of a social media marketing strategy
As we’ve seen, social media software and specific tools for SMO and social listening already play a significant role in the social media strategy of many SMEs, and many more are planning to start using this software —indicating its effectiveness for social media marketing.
Incorporating software into a social media strategy can support organisations in furthering their marketing efforts. However, when determining which tools best suit your needs, the following should be considered:
- What are your social media business objectives?
- What resources can you allocate to social media marketing to achieve those goals?
- How can you integrate social media software into your workflow?
- Who will use these tools and what training will they need?
Data for GetApp’s SMEs and Social Media Survey 2022 was collected in December 2022 and comprises answers from 250 respondents. We selected our survey sample based on the following criteria:
- Australian resident
- SME owner, executive manager, senior manager, or manager
- Working on the board of directors or in the marketing or administration department in a company currently present on social media
- Responsible or frequently involved in the design or implementation of the marketing strategies
All participants were shown the following definitions of organic content and paid advertising:
- Organic social media content is any free content shared on social media accounts, including posts, videos, stories, and more.
- Paid social media, on the other hand, refers to posts or special placements on social media platforms that are supported by advertising budgets, as the name suggests. Paid social strategies are often deployed to increase followers, engagements, clicks, and views via precise audience targeting based on social media users’ demographics, locations, interests, and more.