‘Social Media’ is a veritable buzz term as we move into the first quarter of 2013. With Google’s new changes and new social features, there are some big predictions too which are going to completely change the way that businesses use social media. Think: instant email acquisition from people who are actually really interested in your brand; more analytics and insights into your social media fans and followers; the marriage between e-commerce and social media – and much more.

How is your business using social media, and how do you take advantage of this exciting time for internet marketing and get your social channels to work for you?

Ed Gandia, founding partner of International Freelancers Academy, points out that “From the marketer’s standpoint, it’s becoming increasingly clear that it’s much more effective to have a solid presence in one or two channels than it is to try to dominate every single platform.”

So which platforms will you use to create an effective social presence? Here are three tools that we love to get more from your social media channels without spending more time on them.

Where to post: Social Crawlytics

Social Crawlytics is a data analysis tool that allows you to monitor your competitor’s most popular social content. How does it work? It scans any website (yours, or your competitor’s) and determines which social networks are performing for that brand. It will give you the information you need to make an informed decision about where to invest your social media energy and time. Not performing on Google +? Time to optimise those sites! Does your competitor have a good hold on Twitter? Time to boost your Twitter profile! Plus, it’s free to use.

What to post: Hootsuite

Hootsuite is a system we’ve featured before. It allows you to log into multiple social accounts at once – for example, your company’s Linkedin profile, Facebook Page and Twitter account – and update them all with a click of a button. It also allows you to monitor search trends and popular requests which will help you to determine what content you should be posting on your social networks. Who is interacting with you? What are people responding to? Focus on deliverable content that performs with Hootsuite Analytics as well.

When to post: Bufferapp

One of the big drawbacks of social media is that it can often be a “time suck” in that you find yourself lost in the thousands of updates and interactions. Bufferapp allows you to create a list of content that is automatically posted to your social networks at pre-determined times. If you upgrade to the paid account at $10 a month, you can also set different time schedules for different days and networks, allowing you to post regular content throughout the day without actually having to log in. Best of all, it provides analytics to determine which time slots perform better for your networks!