Social media is such a powerful marketing tool yet over 70% of small businesses struggle with it. Often I am looking through my clients’ competition an their social media is shocking – 70% of those that I look at are terrible.
For many small businesses hiring a professional social media specialist is beyond their budget or low on their agenda – this is often why they suffer. When I was approached by Promo Republic to review their service, aimed at helping small businesses, I jumped at the chance. For me, the majority of my work is writing strategies and consulting on how to optimise accounts for businesses so a service that I can refer my clients to that will help them would be perfect.
I have tried many services and I adore the vast diffferences so that you can find one right for you. At the moment though I have struggled to find out that is great for those new to social media with optimised posts, images and ideas – so far all of them have been too intimidating, complex or don’t offer easy ideas to implement. Promo Republic is trying to fill in that gap – it is an online tool for Twitter and Facebook that is aimed solely at small businesses.
Most brands that I come across that are failing to make the most of their social media often are because:
- They are only posting sales driven posts (only 30% of posts should be – the other 70% should be brand awareness, knowledge share or community building)
- Images are not optimised in terms of size and quality
- Images are not used at all
- Posting too much at once (known as bursts)
- Not posting enough
- Posts are not seasonally relevant or using news and events
- They have automated one of their channels to share content from another so copy is not optimsed
- They don’t analyse statistics
- Not responding to replies
- Not monitoring the community, key hashtags or popular words
At first I will admit that I was skeptical of Promo Republic – I loved the concept they had three months ago when I started using it there were a few things that were a bit clunky. Now however they have a system that I really would recommend small businesses to try out as they have now fix most of them.
Basically it breaks down to three different sections: the calendar, post ideas and statistics. The first time that you open the website you will get sent to the dashboard – this is mainly made up of ideas but also has a couple of other features like a regularly updated tip, box to start posting immediately and button to go to the calendar.
The design of the website is very nice and clean but most importantly it is easy to navigate. Unless you are in image creation, there is a great menu on the side that shows where you are at all times. All of the wording or descriptions of things are straight forward making it a system even the most techno-phobic could navigate.
The whole direction of Promo Republic is about making managing social media easy for small businesses and it definitely manages that. Promo Republic’s integration between the ideas and calendar is by far the best aspect of the whole service as it gracefully walks users step by step through the process without being condescending or too confusing.
One of the biggest mistakes for many is when people post – some post too many posts at once and this is known as bursting. Running a business can be hectic – I know too many accounts where people have not updated accounts for months or post a week’s worth of tweets in an hour. Spreading out posts can be hard but like many systems when you post you have the choice to post it straight away, schedule or add it to a queue to post it in the next available slot. I love the ability to add custom posting times too – if you know a key time to post then you can add it which is useful.
As well as choosing when the post will go out, you can also work out which platform you post it on – this includes being able to post on more than one at once. If you have a Facebook and Twitter account that you want to share content across both channels, it is a simple click of a button. As soon as you choose a Twitter account it bring up how many characters you have left and will stop you from being to post unless you are within the limit. Too many times have I seen businesses who have their Twitter accounts automatically posting every Facebook posts or vice versa – this is really off putting and looks extremely unprofessional to users. This will help stop that and help keep businesses write short and effective posts when trying to create a cross channel update.
There are different variations of this system – a standard account and a Guru one. I started with a standard account before getting updated to the Guru one and there is not much of a difference to the majority of it. The only difference really is that as with a Guru account you can propose ideas to a standard account within the calendar. As someone who has managed accounts in-house, freelance and within an agency I was really interested in the Guru account – if I can tailor suggestions or have a system that my clients would be able to understand and use then it would help improve my ability to help businesses without mistakes occurring.
There are other systems that allow suggestions and drafts but I know from experience how often people just return back to using an excel spreadsheet or end up having to pay a lot of money for a decent system. At the moment the only ideas that a Guru account can suggest are those in the calendar. I hope that they update the Guru system so that you can add suggestions to the post idea section as for me this will make it perfect for me.
In both versions there are a few issues – the main one for me is the statistics page. It shows very basic statistics but doesn’t provide an overview of monthly reach, likes, comments, retweets, etc. As a first user it might be a bit confusing, especially as with the Twitter section it shows things you’ve retweeted within the results. If you retweet popular things it makes all the other posts look terrible and this engagement is not yours but the original authors.
Secondly there currently is no community management or response management – this means that if someone tweets or replies you have to use a completely different system. The same goes for monitoring key words, hashtags and trends – at the moment you would have to use a separate system. Community management is a big issue as response time is now listed at the top of pages – if you don’t respond or take along time to reply your potential fans/customers will now know. I would really love to see their approach to making this so simple and straight forward but it will also make such a big difference to helping businesses manage their social media.
Overall this is a great tool for those new social media in giving them ideas and inspiration but there is still some key aspects missing of that need adding. Every week they are making more and more changes (this week they added a Twitter size image option) so hopefully I will be able to see them improve and grow.
The Good: The seamless integration of the calendar and post ideas
The Bad: The statistics – no overview, ability to export and other issues that make it confusing
The Ugly: No community management or monitoring at all
Overall: Great service for those who are new to using social media for marketing
The Price: $30 (approximately £20) every month
While I love the gap that this app fills – it is a good start but for a business to make the most of their social media they do need guidance and strategy from a specialist. As a social media marketer for 10 years for organisations big and small, I am a freelancer so that I can help businesses develop their brand and grow their business. If you want more information my services and how I can help your business, email me now on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer: To do this review I had a free 3 month subscription to their standard service and Guru to assess the service.