Social media is a critical element of most businesses’ marketing strategies nowadays. In 2018, 77% of the U.S. population has at least one social media profile. It’s predicted that the average person nowadays will spend 5 years and 4 months on social media over the course of their lifetime.

While these statistics might be alarming for social media’s critics, it’s undeniable that people are spending a lot of time on social media. Your business needs to have a social media strategy and needs to know how to execute it well.

Often, though, social media marketing can be too complex or overwhelming to tackle on your own. What outside resources are small businesses using to maximize their social media marketing?

Social Media Management Software Offers Simplicity and Collaboration

A recent survey found social media management software to be the most popular outside resource that business use for their social media marketing – 43% of businesses report using it.

Software solutions include names like Buffer, Hootsuite, and Sprout Social. These tools offer a variety of capabilities depending on the brand.

Before you purchase a social media marketing software, you must first understand your ultimate marketing goals. What do you want the tool to primarily do?

  • Do you want to monitor conversations about your brand? A tool focusing on social media listening might be your best choice.
  • Do you want to understand how your audience reacts, grows, and changes? A tool focusing on social media analytics is potentially the most helpful.
  • Do you simply want to schedule out posts? A cheap tool that mainly provides social media scheduling capabilities might be all you need.

Once you understand your ultimate goals, how do you research the best tools? The largest percentage of businesses (24%) say they are primarily influenced by referrals when searching for social media marketing software. A lesser number are influenced by Google searches (21%) and marketing content (17%).

Referrals offer a level of comfort during the research process. A fellow business can offer more details about exactly how the tool worked for them and whether it will help your specific marketing goals.

When it comes to making the final purchasing decision, though, the tools’ more concrete details are top of mind. Digital marketers primarily consider features (40%), costs (32%), and free trials (27%) when making social media software purchasing decisions.

Social Media Agencies Offer In-Depth Expertise

The second most popular outside resource is social media marketing agencies, at 28%.

If your business is attempting larger social media marketing goals, such as a rebranding or a huge campaign, hiring an agency might be a wise choice.

When searching for an agency, businesses primarily consider referrals (43%) far beyond any other factor. This makes sense, given the intensity of business-agency partnerships.

When you hire a social media marketing agency, you are trusting them with very public platforms – for many customers, social media is where they first encounter your products or services.

By collecting a shortlist of agencies via referrals, you can gather information on other businesses’ experiences, which can often give you far more valuable insight than marketing content or other third-party information.

Once a business is making a hiring decision, its focus shifts primarily to costs (40%), followed by referrals (37%) and culture fit (31%).

This data further signifies the importance of personal comfort when it comes to hiring a social media marketing agency.

“From my perspective, the most important factors in choosing a digital marketing partner are 1) can they do the job, and 2) do you like working with them? In the end, that’s all that matters,” said T. Maxwell, owner of Emaximize, a digital agency.

Don’t Be Afraid to Seek Outside Help

While social media is a constant presence in digital marketing, that doesn’t mean it’s an easy task.

Whether it’s software or an agency, outside resources can significantly benefit your business and are often worth the cost.