Every small business owner lacks one thing the most – time. We know that from experience. And what we also know is that most small businesses don’t have a huge amount of time to spend on learning and looking for the best tools either. Since our business is web development and social media (mostly), we decided to let you have a sneak peek behind the scenes and share with you the best tools that really do wonders for a small business.
Of course you may choose not to use all of these tools. Truth is, we don’t use them all equally, but being aware of them and using them at least occasionally will give you an advantage. And, of course, every small business is unique so make sure you tailor to your own preferences, so it works well for YOU.
But first of all, let us ask you a little question…What is it that you are trying to achieve? Because before you start looking at any tools, you need to be clear about your business goals. You want to be on all social media channels? Good. But do you have to be? We’re not going to mention the usual suspects (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.) in this article as we assume you are already very much aware of them and what they can do for website traffic and a business. What we’re going to focus on are the rest of the tools that you absolutely should start using. As of today.
1. Google Analytics
You cannot seriously be thinking that a website or a blog can thrive without the use of Google Analytics, can you? If you don’t have it installed already, then you should. Launched back in 2005, it is a completely free analytics product which gives you a ton of valuable information about your website – not just the total hits, but also duration of visit, bounce rate, referral sources, keywords, etc. Google Analytics is a powerful social media analytics tool. If you are not tracking your visits and visitors, how can you know what effect social media has on your website traffic? One piece of advice: don’t just sign up, explore it and all the statistics it gives you. Oh yes, and find some time for The Keyword Planner Tool as well.
Here is another important lesson for small businesses…in fact, for all types of businesses: when it comes to social networking, forget about the “me, me, me!” posts. If you are only posting about yourself and your business, you are in danger of being considered a little, how shall we put this?…ego centric! You need to share other people’s content to, content that is relevant to the people that you are trying to influence. When you invest in others, people are more likely to want to invest in you – it’s as simple as that. Using Feedly can help you find that relevant content and store it easily. Pick 10 websites/blogs that you read on a regular basis and that you know produce great content consistently and add them to your feed reader. If you have used Google Reader before it was discontinued, then Feedly will be a great alternative. You can use it on your mobile too. It’s perfect for keeping track of the latest articles, saving them and sharing on social networks.
We are living in the age of blogging and one of the toughest decisions is not whether to blog or not (you know the answer to that is YES), but which platform to use. The leader among blogging platforms today is without doubt WordPress. If you value written content, that’s the platform to use. There are two versions – the free WordPress.com and the self-hosted WordPress.org. For those businesses that plan to utilize a blog as a primary website or marketing tool, it may be worth investing in the self-hosted version.
WordPress offers a large selection of free and premium templates that come with a simple support system. You can see how we have integrated our blog into our website (using WordPress of course).
One of the common challenges of small businesses is the lack of manpower. When every individual in the team is juggling a few hats, it can be hard to manage all social media channels effectively. That is where HootSuite comes to the rescue. Needless to say we’ve been using it from day one and it’s a brilliant tool for scheduling content and keeping track of all social media interaction in one place.
DropBox is what we call the multi tasker’s saviour – the cloud saving tool to rule them all. Like we’ve already said, one of the biggest challenges for a small business is to find enough time. That’s why DropBox comes in very handy – it’s where you can store all your documents, videos, images and then access them from anywhere. It’s a brilliant tool for sharing content in-house and with clients. You can sign up using this link (disclaimer – we will earn extra free space if you do that and thanks in advance if you do).
The world we are living in is more visual than ever and as a result every business needs to find the best way to grab its prospects’ attention. One of these ways is Slideshare – a platform that allows you to share digital slideshows with over 50 million users. Not too bad, right? Slideshare is a great platform to upload music files, videos and presentations, creating a bigger visibility for your brand. The site also has a blog-embedding tool so you can add your creations to your business blog.
Tired of browsing through a mountain of papers on your desk? We feel your pain. And we have a solution for you – it’s called Evernote, an information organizational tool with three functions: to capture, access and find. Every information you need stored (from client meetings to doctor appointments) you can capture it and then access it from any device. It saves you time and it’s completely free.
Which of these tools do you use? What indispensable tool would you add to the list? Use the comment box below.