Having a presence on the Big 3 social networks—Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn—is essential in today’s business world. If you’re like most people, you probably have profiles on each, but you end up spending time on one more than the others. That’s natural; how you consume content is personal preference. Facebook tends to offer more personal content with a splash of biz mixed in. Twitter’s short snippet format makes it easy to browse the headlines. And LinkedIn is all business.
Keeping up with all these profiles and the many other social networks can be a time-consuming—and daunting—task. But with the right technology tools, you can quickly and easily manage your social media content and be consistent with your communication across networks.
There are a number of tools on the market that can help you schedule, publish, track and evaluate your social media content. There’s TweetDeck, SocialOomph, Ping.fm, CoTweet, Twuffer, Gremln (previously TwAitter), just to name a few.
But my favorite is HootSuite (and it’s not because of the cute owl logo--but that doesn't hurt!).
Why am I such a fan? I’ve got seven reasons:
1. Future Post Scheduling I first learned of HootSuite several years ago when I was looking for a tool that would schedule future tweets. Trying to remember to send out a status update in the middle of a busy day is impossible. Being able to set aside a block of time to create social content and upload it to be published at a future date allows you to be more deliberate, strategic and consistent with communications.
2. Multiple Profile Integration (And Apps!) The other thing that first attracted me to HootSuite was the ability to simultaneously create content for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. (Foursquare, Wordpress, Ping.fm, MySpace and mixi are also available. The number of profiles you can manage is limited for the free version; the pro plan offers more options.) Publishing to multiple platforms offers the greatest potential for content to reach the target audience in the method they prefer.
In November, HootSuite unveiled a new upgrade: apps, with YouTube, Flickr, Tumblr and Get Satisfaction kicking off the App Directory. December brought Constant Contact and Summify into the mix. And on February 1, Digg, TrendSpottr and InboxQ were added. The apps work similar to the standard social networks, with management in one integrated dashboard.
3. User Friendly (And Customizable) Dashboard Being able to easily monitor social content and conversation is essential. HootSuite’s dashboard allows you to add social networks and apps as tabs in one dashboard. Each tab can include the streams of info most important to you (newsfeed, pending posts, published posts, mentions, messages, etc.) in any column order you prefer. You can also choose between three color themes to make it even more personal.
4. Mobile Device Use Social media is immediate, so being able to create content on the go is important. The HootSuite App is available for iPhone, Android and Blackberry so you can publish on the fly.
5. Analytics Reports How do you know if your social media efforts are successful? By monitoring the metrics. HootSuite’s pro plan offers a quick view of your analytics as well as custom reports to measure specific outcomes.
6. Learning Tools HootSuite is a robust social media management tool, and there’s much to know. To learn more about the basics, check out the FAQs. To stay up-to-date on enhancements and get tips on how to most effectively use the tools, read the HootSuite Blog. And for those who really want to become an expert, check out HootSuite University.
7. Robust Features & Continual Improvements While I’ve used HootSuite for some time, there are some features that I have yet to delve into. It allows for multiple users to have access (great for companies that have numerous contributors), posts to be approved prior to publishing (so managers can review to ensure content complies with internal social media policies) and tasks to be assigned (to even out the workload). You can also create contact lists and import RSS feeds.
And as I mentioned previously regarding the introduction of apps, new features are continually being added to meet the demands of the ever-evolving social media networks.
With such a glowing endorsement, you might think the good folks over at HootSuite paid me off. Nope. I’m just a loyal customer paying it forward. The $5.99 monthly price for the pro service is a great value. But keep in mind that what works for me may not work for you. Determine what your needs are and investigate the tools on the market. Finding the right technology for your social media management lets you work smarter, not harder.
Feedback: What social media management tools do you use and why? How have they helped you reduce the burden of operating multiple profiles? Keep the discussion going and share your thoughts below!
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