Managing an organization’s social media accounts can be, even just for Twitter management alone, a full-time job depending on how much one values that online presence. While outlets like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn all have their own browser-based interfaces with varying levels of intuitiveness and accessibility, the sheer volume of communication throughput even a small business or organization might have to manage can be staggering. Compound this with the fact that many if not most companies will have profiles on multiple outlets and the need for some sort of all-encompassing management system is readily apparent.
Already a few developers like HootSuite have risen to prominence in this field, but in the interest of providing the maximum amount of choice in software options we decided to put together a brief list of mid-level and lesser-known programs whose focus is making the experience of brand management on Twitter a much easier, manageable experience.
One of the original concepts of Twitter was spontaneity. Users log onto their accounts to fire off brief 140-character posts about what they’re up to at any given moment, granting a candid glimpse into the daily life of user.
Of course, for a business user the idea of having to log in and spend precious time manually inputting every single tweet for every bit of internal or external news is a rather silly one, especially if they already spend most of their day attending to daily timesinks like managing a sales pipeline, conducting interviews, etc. The Buffer dashboard, which can be fully accessed via browser or a browser app, lets users establish a queue of prewritten tweets to broadcast to their followers. In this way an organization can have a regular schedule of tweets set up to cover anywhere from a few hours to weeks without anyone having to constantly log back into the Twitter account at specific times. Combined with more spontaneous tweets the Buffer queue can go a long way in building a lively and active presence of Twitter.
(Full disclosure: We’ve been using Buffer to manage tweets on our Twitter account)
Contrary to what the name might suggest, Tweetdeck’s functionality isn’t restricted solely to Twitter. With Tweetdeck–accessible via browser, Google Chrome app or downloadable program–users can link up their accounts on Twitter and Facebook and have updates for both outlets displayed on the same dashboard. Earlier versions of the solution actually had compatibility with many other social media outlets including LinkedIn and Foursquare, but program updates following Tweetdeck’s acquisition by Twitter itself in late 2011 nixed those.
While Tweetdeck doesn’t deliver analytics or orchestrate your tweet scheduling, what it does do really well is informational awareness. What you get with Tweetdeck is a single Twitter management dashboard which you can customize in most any way. The trick behind this is the program’s column-styled view. The user can create any number of columns programmed to track virtually anything on Twitter. Besides the obvious ones like tracking @replies, direct messages and new followers, columns can also monitor developing trends and keywords as well as the tweets of other individuals and organizations in real time.
Similar to Tweetdeck, SproutSocial integrates a user’s Twitter and Facebook accounts (as well as others) into a unified interface for easier management. Where it differs, however, is in the amount of functionality offered in data analysis and reporting.
Unlike Buffer or Tweetdeck, which are focused on exclusively on being account management and stream tracking utilities, SproutSocial is much closer to a full social media marketing solution. Tools include analytics on demographics and trends as well as modules for business-oriented functions like CRM and Help Desk.
Shoutlet’s suite of account management and analytic tools might even be more detailed than that of SproutSocial. The company boasts that it can help marketing departments develop a cogent strategy for “social media optimization” and deliver content that will lead to far greater engagement with the online customer base.
Slightly similar, but in contrast to programs like Buffer and Tweetdeck, Twitterfeed focuses on being a narrow solution to Twitter content generation. By registering with Twitterfeed users can implement RSS feeds as content streams for material to be automatically posted in tweet form. A number of built-in real time statistics, while not as robust as those of Shoutlet or SproutSocial in terms of drill-down detail, track the effectiveness of content strategies.
Looking for more social media management tool recommendations? Check out our various social media management software comparison reports, or browse all of our handy materials on social media tools by taking a trip to the social media management resource center.