Social Media Tsunami – How To Manage It All

Social media can be overwhelming to the small business owner, especially one who has not really used these tools (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) before.  Questions abound: When do I post?  How much do I post? Which networks do I use? With so much uncertainty, the social media novice might feel overwhelmed to the point of quitting the race before it even begins.  After all, who has time to spend all day on Facebook, right?

So, should the small business owner throw in the towel or are there options for reining in the seemingly overwhelming task of managing their social media presence?

Short of hiring a social media manager, there are several tools available to the business owner that will help them overcome the “social media tsunami” that they can feel caught up in.

Buffer

The first tool I would recommend looking into is called Buffer. This free tool allows you to schedule posts and tweets right from within your internet browser of choice, whether they are to be posted to Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.  I had previously done a review of Buffer (“Why Not “Buffer” Your Social Posts – A Review”), and am still a very big advocate of their program. This constant flow of information that has caused people to approach me and let me know how valuable they find my posts and shares.  It also ensures that I always have a stable of posts ready to go, and they are released according to the schedule that I set.

HootSuite

HootSuite Dashboard EsquireTech SolutionsOne of my favorite social media “dashboard” programs is HootSuite, which allows you to monitor and manage multiple social profiles.  You set up columns for any social network (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and soon GooglePlus), search term, or hashtag that you want to follow, and it organizes your social life.  Want to schedule posts for later in the day?  Hootsuite can do that.  Want to run an analytics report on your progress?  Hootsuite has analytics built in.  It also has a built-in URL shortener, and pulls in the necessary pictures to attach to Facebook links.  There also free applications for you to use on your iPhone, iPad, Android, and Blackberry devices.  In addition, since the information is actually hosted in the cloud, whatever search columns you set up are available on all devices.  They offer both a free and paid service, but I believe it is worth the $5.99 for the Pro plan, which integrates Google Analytics and Facebook Insights.  Want to sign up?  Here is my HootSuite affiliate link (thanks, in advance).

TweetDeck

TweetDeck, now owned by Twitter, was one of the first social dashboards.  It allows you to organize your Twitter accounts, and to set-up columns for searches that you conduct on a routine basis (hashtags, users, topics).  TweetDeck also has a built in URL shortener, and enables you to schedule your tweets in advance, however, TweetDeck does not offer the same flexibility as HootSuite, since it is meant to only monitor Twitter.  TweetDeck offers both desktop and mobile applications, and will work well for someone looking for basic Twitter management.

Gremlin

Gremlin is a newer social media dashboard, that I’ve just started to experiment with.  Gremlin allows you to accomplish all the same tasks as HootSuite, and offers both free and paid versions, although Gremlin’s Gremlin Social Dashboardplans run all the way to $500 per month.  I will admit that Gremlin offers some very compelling features, which HootSuite and TweetDeck don’t, including goal tracking, a LinkedIn Groups, and the ability to post
longer messages (with the comparable $6 per month plan).

But will it overtake HootSuite?  That remains to be seen (although I do prefer their mascot to HootSuite’s OWL).

Managing the social media tsunami takes time, effort, and work, but these tools can help you better use social media to promote your business.  And, since all of the mentioned programs are free or have free plans available, make sure to try them all, and find the one that works well for you.  And remember to share how you are using them.

Have you found another hidden gem?  A tool too good to be true?  Make sure to share it.

TweetDeck

HootSuite

Gremlin

Buffer

 

Other social media tool resources:

Top Ten Favorite Social Media Tools for Daily Use

Top 5 Social Media Tools Companies Use

13 Tools to Simplify Your Social Media Marketing

22 Hot New Social Media Tools Worth Exploring

 

Article originally appeared at Digital Brand Marketing Education.

EsquireTech Is Now a HootSuite Pro Solution Partner

HootSuite Pro PartnerHootSuite is a social media management system for businesses and organizations to collaboratively execute campaigns across multiple social networks from one secure, web-based dashboard. Key social network integrations include Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, plus a suite of social content apps for YouTube, Flickr, Tumblr and more.

Earlier this year HootSuite hit 3 million users with over 700 million messages sent through over 6 million unique social profiles. Along with HootSuite’s web platform, 20% of users access the dashboard through their mobiles including iPhone, Android, Blackberry and iPad. HootSuite also offers localized versions of their dashboard in six languages – English, French, Italian, Japanese, Spanish and Portuguese.

There are many benefits to HootSuite Pro, including:

Engage: Optimize your audience engagement by creating search streams, scheduling messages and monitoring all of your social network profiles from one customizable web and mobile dashboard.

Collaborate: Invite clients and colleagues to participate in your social media management. Assign messages for follow up and share streams, helping you increase efficiency.

Analyze: Measure your efforts using over 40 social analytics modules to build and share custom reports. Or select from one of our pre-made templates for quick and easy reporting.

Secure: Share access with team members without compromising security. The team permission levels and advanced sharing options ensure you remain in control of your valuable social profiles and accounts.

Sign up for a 30-day free trial of HootSuite Pro now by visiting my affiliate link:  HootSuite

Have You Checked In With Herematch?

The world of geo-social applications is shrinking, with the recent purchase and shut-down of Gowalla by Facebook.  But that isn’t stopping a new upstart, called Tangletech, from unleashing on the business world a new take on the social check-in – herematch.

So, what exactly is herematch?  Well, as their slogan, “Check in with herematch – Check out with Business” indicates, their purpose is for you to check in at business events, and they will match you with other usersherematch at the same place or event, and display that list of matches and why they match you.  Maybe they are looking for your services, or maybe you went to the same school or are from the same town.  Either way, they may be someone that you want to connect with, right there.  And they provide the means to do just that.  But don’t worry, they also provide a complete list of everyone that has checked into the event or location, as well, so you can view their profile, and decide whether to connect.

By filling out your profile, you provide herematch with the required information to match you to similar attendees, including your industry, the services you need, your business location, as well as the standard bio and contact information, including cell phone (which would be necessary to connect you “immediately”).

I would also recommend that you add your profile picture (just like all other networking applications), so that you have a reference should you decide to meet in person at an event.

But, one of the most interesting features, I feel, is the ability to find local events, on the herematch website (registration is required).  Just put some general information (category, city, state, or industry) and herematch will provide you with a listing of upcoming events that fit your criteria.  What better way to plan your networking strategy than having all events right at your fingertips.  You are also able to add events not in their database, either from the event or in advance, giving you the ability to connect with people at any business networking event.

Do we need another check-in application?

After downloading the application at the Trade Brooklyn B2B Trade Show on March 20th, I immediately checked in (after checking in on Foursquare), to see if this program would benefit me.  Unfortunately, I was not provided with any matches, and very few people had checked in to the event.  In addition, the application is limited to the New York area, although they will be expanding nationwide shortly (it only entered the Apple App Store in January, and the Android Market on March 20th).

Do we need another check-in application?  Maybe.  Herematch’s ability to match your needs with those of the people around you seems like a major benefit, especially at a large trade show (like Trade Brooklyn) when you might not get an opportunity to meet everyone, at least you will meet those people looking for your particular services.

I will continue to give herematch a chance, especially at the next big trade show, Trade Nassau, which takes place on April 25th.  I think every app deserves a second chance.  But do they get a third?  I don’t know.

Have you tried it?  Do you use geo-social applications?  What do you think, do we need another check-in app?  Let’s discuss…

 

Resources

Herematch – Check in with herematch, Check out with business

Gowalla is Going to Facebook

 

Originally published at Digital Brand Marketing Education 

Who is Listening to You?

Who is listening to you?My wife went to a conference this past weekend, in Rye, New York (she is an educational consultant that owns Literacy Builders).  Once she arrived at the hotel, she had numerous problems entering her room, which culminated in a visit from security at 11:00p.m, who proceeded to blame her for the issues.

My wife did what she usually does, and blogged about the incident, but related it to education (check out her blog, The Blame Game to read all about it).  For her, that was the end of the matter.  Her key worked the rest of the conference, and that was that.

Except it wasn’t.

The blog was posted on Monday, October 24, 2011, at about noon.  Sometime in the early evening, she received a direct message on Twitter, from Hilton Online (@hiltononline) asking for her to follow them and DM (direct message) her information so that they may assist.

Tweet from Hilton Hotels

 

Wait, what?

She never tweeted.  She never put it on Facebook.  She didn’t even link to them in her blog.  She merely mentioned which hotel she checked in to.

Talk about listening.

One of the things we tell clients to do before attempting to jump into the social media swimming pool is listen.  Listen to how people interact.  Listen to what people are saying, whether it be about your brand or topic.  It will give you an idea as to what’s being said about you, your brand, your company, your topic of choice.  It will help you frame how you will use these social media tools to join the conversations.

Hilton Hotels did just that.  Not only did they listen, but they took the affirmative approach of trying to solve the issues, and solve them immediately.

But what happens when the brand or person isn’t listening?  When your Facebook post or tweet goes unanswered?

Frustration and anger are usually the result.  Take for example the “Motrin Mom’s” incident.  It started innocently enough, with Motrin posting a commercial equating “wearing a baby” with fashion.  Both the twit-o-sphere and blog-o-sphere exploded with negative comments on the ad, and against the brand, Motrin.  The ad broke on a Friday, and by Saturday it was the most tweeted about subject on Twitter.  By Sunday, there was a 9 minute YouTube video posted with all the negative complaints and photos of mom’s carrying babies.  The creative agency admitted it didn’t have much knowledge of Twitter, and had no idea of the backlash they were encountering.

In the end, what was their response?  An e-mail to several bloggers.  No tweets, no Facebook.  However, it was now National news.  It appeared in the New York Times, Mashable, and even AdAge.

Talk about not listening.

To bring it closer to home, on a recent trip to Disney World, I was stuck on a Monorail, at 10:30pm for over 30 minutes, with 2 tired kids trying to see the fireworks.  No mention of why we were stuck over the p.a. system.  So I tweeted to Disney about it.  This was in April.  I’m still waiting for a response.

For the small business who may feel overwhelmed with all the tools out there, take solace.  There are some great “listening” tools at your disposal.  From Google Analytics to Facebook Insights to Social Mention, all of these tools help you learn what is being said about you and your brand.

Use them to your advantage.  Listen to what’s being said.  And, after listening, then respond.  It’s the best way to engagement.

Listening Tools

 

 

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Do You Suffer From Blinky-Light -itis?

Computer DoctorsI have a friend.  Let’s call him “John”.  John is sick, but there is nothing that a doctor can do for him.  There are no prescriptions.  No creams.  The prognosis is not good.  John has “blinky-light –it is”.  But what’s worse?  I believe that it is genetic and contagious at the same time.  His wife has it.  So do his three kids.  I don’t foresee them being cured any time soon.   And I can say this with the utmost certainty, as over the last three years they have only gotten worse.

So, what exactly is this terrible affliction, that I believe affects 1 in every 5 families?  Blinky-light -itis.   The inability to not click on every single web banner with blinking lights.  Every banner that tells them they need to “click here” gets clicked.

So what are the dire consequences that this family must suffer with?  A trip to the virus doctor on a regular basis.  At least once a month I get that frantic phone call telling me one of their computers are not working properly.  That their software isn’t loading.  That their computer won’t boot.  If you can name the virus, I can probably tell  you which family member suffered.

I have prescribed the only remedy I can think of:  “STOP CLICKING THOSE BLINKY LIGHTS!”  But it never works.

So, I’m asking you, my intrepid readers.  How can we cure these people, and maybe save future generations from this horror?

Hold on, the phone is ringing.  “You clicked the lights again, didn’t you?

Gotta go.  The patient is waiting.