Theres no getting around it: marketing with social media is time-consuming. Keeping conversations going on all of your networks at once can be a challenge, and brainstorming and creating new content can also put a dent in your day.
Fortunately, there are several tools that can make managing social media very easy. Lets look closely at two of them: Hootsuite and TweetDeck.
Hootsuite is a social media management tool that helps you monitor and update multiple social networks at once. Its most powerful feature is that it allows you to collaborate with other team members and coordinate updates to your librarys social media accounts (Note that there is a fee to do this; see pricing below.).
The platform supports many social networks, including all of the major ones: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Foursquare. The networks are organized in a row of tabs on the top of a dashboard. Each account is then displayed in columns or streams, which are focused on a topic or area. Standard streams on your Twitter account, for example, include: Home Feed, Mentions, Direct Messages, Lists.
TIP: Organize the people you follow on Twitter into lists. For example, Local Government might include your board members, the mayor, and the police. This makes it easier to monitor and respond to conversations.
Because Hootsuite centralizes your social networks in a single interface, you can now monitor conversations from one place. Whats more, you can respond to comments via the Hootsuite dashboard. In fact, you can create an update and send it to all, some or one of your social networks at once.
Another valuable time-saver is that Hootsuite enables you to schedule up to 50 updates at a time. So, you can prepare and schedule tweets, photos, Facebook status updates and more in just one sitting.
Hootsuite also allows you to collaborate easily. You can assign messages to specific staff for follow up, and then review and approve before the update is published. For those updates that happen from the library floor, there are Hootsuite apps that give you full access to the dashboard from your smartphone or tablet.
To use Hootsuite as a collaboration tool, however, requires a fee. Its free for single users, but a team of two costs $9.99 a month. Additional users are $10 per month. In addition, the upgraded version also gives you access to analytics, providing a single place to view Facebook Insights, Google Analytics, Twitter and Ow.ly stats. (Ow.ly is a URL shortener tool that allows users to quickly create a conveniently short URL to share through email, social networks or anywhere else on the web)
The New York Public Library used Hootsuite to manage a decentralized team of contributors to its Twitter account. The library not only increased the number of followers, but also increased traffic to its Web site, according to the case study.
TweetDeck, owned by Twitter, has a very similar interface to Hootsuite. Like Hootsuite, it allows you to monitor and update multiple Twitter accounts as well as other social networks. You can organize your Twitter feed into topics and view them as streams or columns, schedule updates, and use the service from a mobile device.
One useful feature is the tag cloud. Click on the cloud icon at the bottom of any column and it will show what is trending or popular in that column. This is helpful for getting more people to view your updates.
You can set your preferences in TweetDeck to simplify your updates and make them more effective. Check the setting to show the number of followers in Tweets, and youll see the count under each persons avatar. This helps identify key influencers to engage in conversation. You can also set your preferences to automatically include the hashtag when replying to tweets, ensuring that your comment can be viewed by everyone following the topic.
One of Tweetdecks advantages is that its very fast, which makes it easy to stay current with real-time updates. However, it is sometimes hard to navigate and manage the columns if youre using a smaller screen, such as a laptop.
A disadvantage is that this isnt a team collaboration tool. On the upside, its completely free to use.