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Social media marketing: 6 must-have apps for every marketer's toolkit

On a good day, managing a company's abundant social media accounts is a juggling act. Most days? It's a full-blown circus. Consumer demand for fresh, authentic content delivered throughout the day via multiple social media platforms — from Twitter to Facebook to Instagram to Google+ — is intense, but the payoff can be huge: customers who interact with brands on social media are likely to buy up to 40 percent more from them. But day-to-day, social media marketing doesn't have to be a spectacle.

Here are six time-saving social media tools that are a) free and b) guaranteed to save time.

Discover what’s trending

  • Mention: Digital marketing managers can track hot topics online and what's being said about their companies on social media and in the news — in real-time and in one place. Mention is similar to Google Alerts, except that marketers can narrow searches further by including words they want to exclude. Marketers can also post directly to their social media accounts from Mention's platform.
  • TagBoard: Active on Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Vine? Tagboard is an application that tracks hashtags across all major social media platforms and shows marketers where and how the hashtags they search for are being used. Social media marketers can use Tagboard to monitor and interact in key hashtag conversations in their industry as well as monitor hashtags that they create.

Spot industry influencers

  • Twiangulate: While it’s easy to identify power-Tweeters like Perez Hilton and President Obama, they’re probably not the influencers marketers are expecting to reach. Twiangulate is an app that takes care of the discovery aspect of locating industry influencers by uncovering (often hidden) micro-influencers who only insiders follow (e.g., a popular blogger who will tote a company's diapers or an opinionated environmentalist who will advocate another company's green energy solution).
  • KloutMost users rely on Klout to measure their own influence online and through social media, but it's also a tool that can be used to identify who is the most influential in a brand’s industry, genre or network. This helps social media managers to target and empower strategic influencers to become online advocates for their brands.

Automate, automate, automate

  • IFTTT: Translated as "If this, then that," IFTT is a service that can allow marketing managers to automate the process of updating their various social media accounts whenever new content is added. For example, "Update every new Wordpress post to Facebook Page," is one command a marketing manager can create.
  • Tweet Deck: The service is similar to Hootsuite, the popular social media automation application, except that it's free and works only for Twitter accounts. (Hootsuite offers monthly subscriptions that start at $10 and can run upwards of $150). While it also lacks some of Hootsuite's bells and whistles (namely, advance analytic reports and a publishing calendar), the application enables users to tweet and track engagement and keywords.

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