There are few things sadder than a social media account that hasn’t been updated in two or three months. But seriously, who has the time to cycle multiple times daily through all these pages and streams and walls and such? Sure, it may be fun to watch the latest viral video or see what George Takai has posted lately, but we’ve got businesses to run! We can’t spend all day surfing social media.
Fortunately, there are some low-cost, easy to use tools that can help you manage your social media accounts — without taking up your entire day to do it.
My personal favorite is HootSuite. To start with, they have a free option (can’t beat that price!) and their paid plans can be had starting for around $9 a month. You can also customize your paid plan with add-ons to suit your team environment.
With HootSuite, you create your own “dashboard” to monitor the social media streams (or parts of streams) that are important to you. You create tabs to group streams however you’d like, and then panels for each individual stream within that tab.
This can help you save time by highlighting those messages that you most want to see. For instance, on one tab I have a panel that only shows “@” tweets that mention my business account name, and another that only shows direct messages to the business. These are probably more important for me to see and reply to quickly, and this makes sure they don’t get lost in the clutter of my Twitterstream.
Another cool feature is that you can schedule tweets, Facebook posts, Google + page updates, and more. This is really handy if you have a special promotion coming up, or you know you’re going to be busy but you still want to be active on social media. You can send the same update to multiple channels with a single action, or you can write individual updates for each channel.
HootSuite gives you the option of manually scheduling when you’d like the update to go out (useful for time specific campaigns), or you can use their “schedule optimizer,” which will automatically pick a time for you. Of course, you always have the option of sending immediately if you prefer.
With a paid plan, you can add additional “team members,” so you can designate others to help with your social media campaigns. From what I can tell, HootSuite is the only one of these three that supports Google+ at this time, so that may be a consideration for those using G+ as part of their
For more information, check out www.hootsuite.com.
Another free alternative is Gremln. With a free account, you can set up one user and up to 5 social media accounts. Upgrade at any time to a paid plan to add on more features. Their interface is similar to HootSuite, with tabs and panels. One thing I really, really like about Gremln is their calendar. Like HootSuite, Gremln allows you to schedule posts to go out in the future. Their calendar feature makes it very easy to see what you have scheduled on a day by day basis. It’s a planner’s dream!
Free accounts are limited to Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn individual accounts as well as only one user. If you want to add team members or be able to track and post to LinkedIn groups or a Facebook fan page, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid account. Fortunately, paid accounts start at only $6 a month, and include some nice extra features as well.
For more information, visit www.gremln.com.
While MarketMeSuite doesn’t offer a free account option, they do offer a 60-day free trial, which should be plenty of time to see if they’re the one for you. After that, it’s a reasonable $15 a month. The interface of MarketMeSuite is a bit different from that of HootSuite and Gremln, but it may look very familiar to anyone who’s used Outlook for email. Instead of separating messages by social media channel, your main inbox shows all social media messages, regardless of the account.
MarketMeSuite supports Twitter, Facebook (accounts and pages), LinkedIn, Instagram, and Constant. You can use filters to designate “Smart Inboxes” that pull out messages meeting certain criteria. This allows you to easily find and deal with messages that might be more important to you, or to segregate messages by social media account or channel. You also have a “Lead Mailbox” where you can store messages from people you think might be good sales leads for you.
Like the others, MarketMeSuite offers scheduling capabilities, so you can post updates even when you’re busy working on other things.
Find out more at www.marketmesuite.com.
Keeping up with social media can easily become overwhelming. A dashboard can make your life much simpler by allowing you to keep up with your social media accounts with a minimal investment of time and money.