Praval Singh on Using Zoho Social for Your Business

using zoho social for small business

In this episode of Small Biz in :15 On Location, we traveled to Austin, Texas, for ZohoDay 2022 to talk to Zoho Vice President of Marketing and Customer Experience Praval Singh. In this episode, Shawn Hessinger, the Chief Editor of Small Biz Trends, sits down and talks to Praval to find out all about managing your social presence with Zoho Social.

What is Zoho Social and What Does it Do?

Shawn: Let’s start with talking about Zoho Social and what it does.

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Praval: Zoho Social is essentially a social media management platform that allows businesses of all sizes, as well as agencies today, to manage social media presence for various brands.

It could be brands they own, which are their own brands, and in the case of agencies, it could be the brands that they manage social media for.

The interesting part here is it lets you manage your social media accounts across different social media networks. It could be a page, it could be a profile, depending on which channel you’re on and it keeps everything together in one place from a publishing and scheduling perspective, as well as from a social media listening and monitoring perspective.

And all that has a layer of collaboration to it. So, what that means is you could be a team of two or could be a team of 20. You can bring your team in on it. They can discuss ideas, they can collaborate, and give feedback—all of that within the same platform instead of playing email ping pong all day.

How Zoho Social Allows You to Easily Spread Your Social Presence

Shawn: What can automation do for the really small business owner, maybe even the solopreneur in terms of allowing them to spread their social presence and really have a chance to compete?

Praval: How the platform helps is, let’s say you have some tweets: do you want to send them out on fixed days of the week of the month or whatever? There could be some posts that you want to recycle and repeat at a certain frequency.

For example, tweets leading to an event like this can be scheduled four months in advance—and they’ll go out at a set schedule. Things like this are what automation really helps with when it comes to social media, publishing and scheduling,

More than that, when you have a couple of people on the team, let’s say you can see whose schedule, what you have, a social media calendar to drop things around and say something you scheduled for Wednesday you want it to go out on Friday, it just drag and drop.

So, a.) being able to schedule and b.) being able to visualize your content pipeline or a calendar is what social helps you with, as well.

Shawn: Can you talk a little bit about how businesses can use the listening component in Zoho Social to really gain an advantage that goes beyond just endless tweets or endless Facebook posts about my product?

Praval: There’s so much activity and so many things coming up on social media. So, the question is how do you keep track?

What a good listening platform would do is enable you to use filters in your searches and define your searches more appropriately so that you’re getting the right things on your timeline.

A platform like Zoho Social has something called a monitor dashboard, and it has multiple columns. You want to see a bunch of things…you want to see tweets from people like you…and you want to see tweets from customers. You have a list on Twitter for that matter, right? You can create a separate monitoring view for that.

Also, you want to see tweets your own marketing team is making, your branding is making, right? So, you can have a column for that, too.

It’s like a dashboard that has multiple columns. You’ve defined who is who, and then you listen to the tweets. And this is just a one-use case. On a regular day, let’s say you have a column for your customers that you want to keep track of what they are saying. That’s another way of listening. Then comes listening to keywords that are relevant to your industry.

How Zoho Social’s Listening Platform Flips Negative Customer Feedback into “Aha Moments”

Shawn: The idea of customer complaints about your business or a negative perception of your business—that was something people were talking about for the longest time…when people were tweeting about, you know, airlines breaking guitars and things like that. But is that still a thing? Is that still something that you can use social media for to figure out what your customers really think about you—that maybe they’re not saying to your face?

Praval: One part of this is understanding the social sentiment around your brand. Is it net positive or negative, whatever? Because with the way things have been the last five, seven, ten years, you and I prefer to go on social media and chat about something or reach out to a brand if we’ve had an issue, right?

A social listening platform allows people to find the opportunity to flip that moment that is unwanted or unpleasant into an “aha” moment. And there are so many examples and case studies around this.

So, the tool helps you identify any such opportunity where there is a need to address that. But the limitation that we have seen is when your social media marketing or management platform is in a silo, it doesn’t connect with your CRM and has no other intel into it.

You may not have a contextual idea about who this person is. So, for example, if I’m the social media manager for a brand, I see a negative tweet, I click on it and I see someone’s profile—and what all do I know about the person like:

    • Is that person a customer already?
    • Are there any open support tickets from that person in my helpdesk software?
    • What are the kind of emails you have recently exchanged with them?

And lastly, how do you get that data? You get that data only when your social media management software integrates with your CRM and other things.

That is when context comes in, and that makes me, as a social media marketer, a lot more empowered to turn that situation into an aha moment. Because when I have a lot of context about that customer, I would address things in a very different way.

And that includes having access to the contact information. I can pick up the phone and call them, right?

So that’s the thing with social media tools that are in silo versus the ones that connect with your CRM. And that’s where we see a lot of value and that customers really like that benefit.

Zoho Social’s Other Features that Improve Social Media Impact

The social listing platform of Zoho Social also has other features that let you monitor the following in real-time to help improve your social impact:

  • Hashtags: You can track and analyze any hashtag to see how it’s being used, who is using it the most, and more.
  • Your business mentions: You can monitor all mentions of your brand across social media, even if they don’t include your handle.
  • Competitors: You can set up competitor monitoring to see how your brand measures up and where you might need to make some changes.
  • Reviews: You can track online reviews of your business to get an idea of what people are saying.
  • Google My Business queries: You can see what people are asking about your business on Google My Business.
  • Twitter lists: You can monitor Twitter lists that you’ve been added to, even if they’re private.

How to Get Started with the Right Tools

At the close of the episode, Paraval Singh discusses how really small businesses can get started with the right tool for expanding their social media presence. The best things he says to do, include:

  • Start something small with a low barrier to entry. You’re not ready to make an upfront investment of sorts because you don’t know where this will go. Look for something that has a free trial and a free plan. You can graduate into one of the paid plans, which is a tiered pricing model when you are ready.
  • Be mindful of the value add when come to a sense of customer support. How easy or difficult is it to bring you on board? Look at aspects of integration. Is it a social media tool that’s in a silo that is looking good or seems to be good? Shows you everything that it has but doesn’t connect with your CRM? Because that’s where the value gets added. Zoho Social has powerful CRM integration.
  • Watch for hidden costs. You are a startup; look for something that’s affordable. Look for something that doesn’t hurt you. A lot of times what happens is the tools seem to be inexpensive to begin with to come on board. But as you start adopting it, as you start bringing more people from your team on that, it starts to get expensive. It may be inexpensive today, but how will it be in a year when I grow my team from 1 to 5?

The Takeaways

All Zoho Social’s features are designed to give you a better idea of how people are perceiving your brand and where you might need to make some changes. With it, you can turn negative customer experiences into positive ones and improve your social media presence.

Also, remember that managing social media is about more than posting to Facebook and Twitter. It’s about listening to what your customers have to say and easily extending your social media presence. Lastly, be sure you choose a tool that’s up to the task and is a good fit for your budget and startup.

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Holly Chavez Holly Chavez is a staff writer for Small Business Trends, where she writes engaging content about anything from starting your own upcycled art business to cryptocurrency scams to avoid. She is a former entrepreneur and industrial engineer who translates her decades of working in the logistics and manufacturing industry to actionable business tips and tricks.

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