If you are  a small business owner or blogger looking to implement social media marketing strategies you may have already noticed how time consuming and difficult is to be there, online, all the time, posting updates. Not to mention actually getting useful analytics and insight to calculate ROI and engagement. Unlike blogging, you cannot just sign in to Twitter and schedule all your tweets for the day when you have a free hour in between sales pitches. That is, unless you use some of the following online social media marketing tools to help manage your social media campaigns.

Hootsuite

Hootsuite offers you the possibility of scheduling posts to several social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter, so you can send things even while you are sleeping. Its dashboard allows you to monitor the social streams in real time, and interact with your followers, and it also offers the possibility of creating bespoke reports (that you can send to your clients) and integrating with Google Analytics. If you are a marketing consultant offering social media services across a variety of mediums and platforms, Hootsuite is probably the best low cost solution for both scheduling and reporting across your team. It's web 2.0 interface is cute and easy to use, and the price is reasonable, at 5.99$ per month payable via PayPal and a 30 days free trial 

TwentyFeet

If what you are after is statistics TwentyFeet allows you to see metrics from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, bit.ly, Google Analytics, My Space and more all in one convenient dashboard… for the price of a coffee per year. You can monitor a Twitter and Facebook account for free, but for $2.49 a year you can add more accounts for the other platforms. I find it worth it just because of the convenience of having everything under the same roof, instead of having to collate reports from several different sources. 

Research.ly

This tool offers you Twitter search on steroids, with graphs and the possibility of tracking things such as brand mentions over 1000 days. That's about 333 times more long than the original Twitter search. The basic services start at 9$ per month, and 99$ per year for extended search features, but if you want things such as degrees of separation or other premium features you'll need to pay about 10 times more. They also offer a white label version. You can sign up here.

Socialoomph

This tool is a favourite among online writers and marketers looking to heavily promote a large number of articles over a long period, both on Twitter, Facebook and other platforms. It has a convenient system of queues, where you can upload tweets and schedule them to be sent with a certain frequency. I came across this one on a forum for online writers offering tips on how to get more visitors to their articles. If you have a large volume of tweets you want to schedule, SocialOomph is the place to go. It also comes with follower management, graphs and other social media features. It's free to use just to schedule tweets manually (but without the bulk uploading, queues and other advanced features), and otherwise it costs 29.97$ per month, with a 7 days trial.

Google Alerts

Is free, is made by Google, and will send you an email alert when results for the keywords of your choice are found on the Google Index. While Google alerts is not practical to monitor a large number of keywords (unless you are willing to spend a large amount of time checking out your emails), it's however a great tool to test if your social media efforts are getting anywhere, and what is said about your brand on Twitter. You can set Google Alerts from your Google Account