As most businesses have recognized the benefits of employing social media platforms to communicate with customers and clients, the problem for many may be how to maintain and manage a consistent engaged online presence. Smaller businesses can benefit greatly from having an online presence, but the practicality of frequently updating Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook profiles may be difficult due to the time commitment required to visit each site individually and publish individual updates.
That’s where programs and software come in, allowing you to show and update all of your social media profiles at the same time, making maintenance easier. Here are 10 apps, dashboards, or platforms that promise to make managing many social media accounts easier by presenting them all at once and/or allowing simultaneous updating. While Hootsuite and Tweetdeck are the most well-known names in this industry, there are a number of alternative possibilities that offer similar and, in some cases, fairly specialized services.
Hootsuite bills itself as “the top social media dashboard to manage and monitor your social networks,” and it has over two million members, including high-profile names like The White House, the Onion, Fox, and Time. It offers a basic free bundle as well as more features if you pay for their ‘Pro’ package.
Hootsuite is aimed at brands rather than individuals, as seen by the logos of high-profile users on the homepage, as well as features such as analytics, automatic reports, a bespoke dashboard, team collaboration, and availability in a variety of languages. Hootsuite also has its own blog, library, and events sections that are well-maintained.
TweetDeck by Twitter is a free service that may be downloaded as a Chrome app, a computer desktop program, or an iPhone and Android app. Tweetdeck allows you to add Facebook and Twitter accounts and arrange them in the order of your choice, displaying them in an easy-to-read, manageable style. It also has filters and the option to schedule Tweets, which many businesses and individuals would find valuable in order to reach followers in different time zones.
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Bottlenose is a relatively newcomer to the scene. Because this dashboard is still in private beta, it may not be suited for everyone, as instant use is not an option. Despite the fact that Bottlenose claims on its website that if you join up, they will give you an invite as quickly as possible.
Bottlenose’s buzzwords are “stream intelligence” and “social help,” but maybe its most intriguing feature is Sonar, a dynamic and engaging new manner of presenting the many social streams and information. When it becomes widely available, Bottlenose could become the most serious competitor to Hootsuite and Tweetdeck.
Social Mention differs from the other sites in that it is a search and analytical platform rather than a dashboard. Although it does not collect all of your accounts in one place, it is still a useful tool in that you can search for any topic immediately; when you arrive at the homepage, you are presented with a search bar and can search a topic or your business name under a number of categories such as blogs, micro blogs, networks, videos, and news, all without having to download anything.
The search results include percentage feedback under four important headings:’strength,”sentiment,”reach,’ and ‘passion,’ which may be used to assist assess your business’s online presence in a variety of ways. API and daily social media alerts are also available from Social Mention.
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MarketMeSuite, as the name implies, is a social media dashboard aimed at marketing users, and one of its benefits to businesses is that it is a free service. It “allows small businesses to manage and monitor their social media, as well as produce new leads and build relationships with new and existing consumers,” according to the website.
MarketMeSuite bills itself as a “ethical marketing app,” and it also includes location targeting and cloud technology, as well as tweet scheduling via Android, iPhone, and Blackberry via Google Calendar. It advertises itself as approachable and simple to use.
Seesmic is accessible for desktop, web, Android, iPhone, and Windows Phone, and it is free to join up for. Seesmic’s latest blog update discusses the app’s update specifically for the Windows Mango phone, which appears to be a good alternative for Windows Phone users.
The information provided on the site about the product is basic; it does not provide specific details about how it operates or how it presents your social profiles, as some of the other apps and dashboards do; the ‘about’ section consists of only three sentences, which distinguishes Seesmic from other information-heavy home pages of other apps with its simple, direct approach; however, a quick look through the Seesmic blog will provide the potential user with more information.
Yoono, like Digsby, does not expressly target business users; instead, it emphasizes its powers to improve your engagement with online buddies. It supports Facebook, Myspace, YouTube, Twitter, and Flickr, among other platforms, but what makes the Yoono app unique is the multitude of formats it is available in. For example, in addition to the pretty usual Mac and Windows options, its desktop program supports Linux and USB keys.
It may also be downloaded for Firefox or Chrome, as well as an iPhone app, which comes in two flavors: a paid Yoono app or a free app with adverts. Yoono has over five million downloads and just released a beta version of a feature called Socialzine, which displays feeds and networks in a magazine-style manner.
Digbsy is a desktop application with the motto “IM, Email, and Social Networks in One Easy to Use Application!” With its attractive widget and colorful site, the emphasis is on contact with friends, making it possibly not the greatest choice for a business. Digsby was acquired by Tagged in April 2011, and the most recent item to the Digsby blog was added in the same month, eight months ago, so it’s unclear what route the app is taking after its acquisition, however users are still active on its forum.
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Netvibes, on the other hand, is geared exclusively toward business users, focusing on agencies and enterprises while providing “Dashboard Intelligence for Professionals, Brands, and Enterprises.” It has been in business since 2005 and claims to have “pioneered the first personalized dashboard publishing platform for the Web.”
Netvibes provides a free basic service in addition to paid premium offerings, which include analytics, curation, collaboration, and sentiments. Netvibes has received multiple honors and has high-profile clients such as the US Department of Energy, L’Oreal, and Lufthansa.
Finally, at the opposite end of the spectrum from the feature-rich, business-oriented Netvibes, Ping.fm is a simple tool for simply updating social networks at the same time.
Ping.fm was founded in 2008 and was acquired by Seesmic in January 2010. It is still a good alternative for individuals who want to update their social networks but don’t need features like dashboards and analytics. It is free to download and supports all major social networks as well as WordPress, Photobucket, and Tumblr.