Choosing a social media management tool

Managing social presence across platforms is one of the great challenges of social media interaction. Individual choice will vary based on need.

For example, TweetDeck has been around awhile and provides a great interface to track different streams (tweets, notifications, individual searches, etc.) that are in different windows in Twitter. Twitter bought the company several years ago and shut down the mobile versions of the app, although it still maintains an online interface. For those who work primarily on a computer and only need to post to Twitter, it’s a good option. Fewer tools and functions can be both a drawback for obvious reasons but also a strength. It maintains a clean, easy-to-use interface because it’s not trying to cram a lot of options in a small space.

If serving Twitter isn’t enough, applications like Buffer allow easy posting to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, app.net, and Google+. It integrates easily with browsers, allowing you to send content with one click and a pop-up window, not a total diversion into a separate application. It suggests text for the post itself. As the name suggests, it specializes in scheduling content — holding posts in a “buffer” — so that users can choose optimal times to send content and not bombard followers all at once. However, Buffer is for posting your own content. It’s not for following others.

Hootsuite allows users to natively post to multiple social platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, foursquare, WordPress, and mixi) and allows installation of more than a hundred apps. It has recently undergone an interface redesign and allows paid upgrades to allow multiple people to manage the same accounts, use vanity URLs, and other services. However, this flexibility creates detractors for the service. Most users will be able to post content and create various streams without too much difficulty, though. Hootsuite’s mobile apps are pretty clunky.

The best social media management tool is one you’ll actually use. Starting with Hootsuite makes sense for most people, who can then decide whether it offers all the options they need at a price they can live with.

Class note: Friday is the last day to post or comment on the blog for your grade on the blog project.

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