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Social Media : There is an app for that !

So there you are, finally convinced that social media will be a cornerstone for the future of your business. You are so ready for it. All system are go, you successfully claimed your social platforms, your profiles are filled in, and that fancy logo of yours is now shining on a handful of the social channels that are en vogue this week.  And now… what?

Hold your horses

Before you spend countless hours trying to keep your social media presence up and running, take a breath. It will be better, faster, and far more efficient if you just take a couple of minutes to get organized.

Basically, there are a few areas that you will have to cover before you truly can rock da Social Media House.  Social media being very much about social, it will important to know what the conversations are, identify who is talking, and where the conversation takes place. It helps also if you have something to say, whether you create your own content, or find your content somewhere ready-made. And, as a conversation is a two-way deal, you will have to talk to the other people, across platforms. And –admit it- sooner or later you will want to see if there is any return on investment on your social media endeavors.  Luckily, there is a plethora of handy tools to help you with listening, content creation, content curation, social engagement, and metrics.

Listening and mapping

The ability to listen top conversations, and pick the ones that are interesting for your is the secret key to success. The Creator gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason. First one is simple: look at your twitter timeline, go read people’s Facebook walls, browse Google+. Never stop doing it, it’s fun, you will learn a lot. But it is not the most efficient way.

  • Twitter search, Facebook search, YouTube search… offer a simple, free way to find conversations based on keywords, or a combination of keywords: an ideal way to start.
  • Socialmention.com is a fab tool to quickly search through a multitude of platforms, simple comme bonjour and free.
  • Monitter is a real time twitter search tool that enables you to monitor a set of keywords on twitter. The great benefit is the ability to narrow the search to a particular geographic location. Finally, you can focus on a particular part of the world.
  • Alltop powered by the illustrious @guykawaski lists a multitude of bloggers, blogs and topics. It’s an online magazine shelf that is very comprehensive, and easy to use.
  • Icerocket.com, from Meltwater allows you to track blogs, and look for trends and trending topics.
  • Boardreader.com is an ideal way to browse content on communities, forums and nomen ist omen: boards.
  • A bit more sophisticated, peoplebrowsr.com indexes over a 100 billion (!) conversations, and processes well over 5000 posts per second, not bad if you are in need of more deep analytics, based on a bigger data sample.
  • Klout.com is a San Francisco-based company that provides social media analytics to measure a user’s influence across his or her social network. Far from being a one-all save-all tool for influencing, it gives you a good view on how influential somebody is on a certain topic. PeerIndex.com (UK based) helps social media contributors assess and score their influence and benefit from the social capital they have built up.  The score gives an idea on someone’s relative influence in comparison to peers.
  • Google’s Ad Planner is a nice way for defining audiences by demographics and interests, search for placements relevant to a well-defined target audience and access statistics for millions of placements. Ideal to create your very own media-plan.

Content creation

Creating great content is the key to success. You know you are smart, you know you have better ideas than anybody else on the market… so go, and spread all that wisdom. Let’s keep it short and simple: two big software suits here.

  • WordPress.com is, without a street length the best online publishing platform this side of the known universe. Free, and Open-sourced, it has a great backend system that offers a dynamic content management system.  It runs 22% of all known websites, from the very big, to the very small. If it’s good enough for Disney, it is good enough for you.
  • Tumblr.com  is a microblogging platform and social networking website that allows for quick blogging-from-the-hip. An easy dashboard interface allows for piece-of-cake content creation, and smoothless reblogging of text, image and video content.

Content curation

Let’s face it. You will not always have the time to create content. Still, sharing content is vital to keep your engagement train rolling. So, where is the great info to redistribute?

  • Try Tickr.com it seamlessly integrates information from the news, the web, social media and business applications into a unified, one-view, relevant story, in real-time. By far the one of the world’s coolest brand monitoring dashboards.
  • Scoop.it allows you to digitally throw great content on a topic page. One click, and any article or post gets uploaded with picture and summary, and one more click to share through your social networks. Two clicks. Done.
  • Storify.com lets users search a wide range of social networks from the safety of a dashboard, and then drag selected individual elements into stories. There is an easy way to re-order the elements and by adding text, context can be given to the readers. Storytelling in a box. Voila.
  • http://freshid.com/intefy/ combines a nice variety of social feeds or discussion topics around a theme, topic, product or brand. It is sort of a Pinterest for peer-to-peer social content.

Social engagement

You’re getting there. Your content is flowing. People are sharing.  People are liking. People are interacting. People are engaging. Make sure you use the right software to make your life easier:

  • Tweetdeck.com; hootsuite.com, and Seesmic.com are three easy platforms that allow you to track and run conversations across platforms. They work on most operating systems, and on most phones and tablets. Easy “housekeeping” with customizable columns.
  • Alternion.com  is a true social hub and communication center. It combines and manages all your social web, email and direct messages in one place, allows you to filter conversations, and provides you with all the engagement tools you can deal with, over a broad variety of networks.

Metrics

How are you doing? Fine? Great! And your social media program? Here are two tools that will allow you to track progress, and return on investment.

  • Spredfast.com one of the most complete tools around. This Social Media Management System enables you to monitor, manage and measure your social media initiatives. Curate, share and engage, AND monitor from the same tool. A great way to start with CRM, keep track of progress, and schedule content from one neat dashboard.
  • Engagor.com is Belgium’s answer to Spredfast. The young, Ghent based team delivers a nice one stop solution for social media monitoring, analytics and engagement. The possibilities of the platform are mindboggling, the service quick and nicely à la Belge quoi. My favorite.

There are countless other apps, tools, platforms and gadgets that will make your life more easy. Do not lose steam, do not try to re-invent hot water. Take the time to find the solution that fits your needs best. Every handyman knows: the right tool, for the right job is half of the work.

(this post appeared first in the November edition of DMix)

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