So you've started Twittering and you're posting articles on Facebook, you're maintaining a Google+ page and when you go out you check-in via Foursquare not to mention managing your professional network via LinkedIn. Excellent, all good stuff! It's hard though isn't it?
It's hard for a number of reasons, keeping social media services up to date is a time consuming process especially as there are probably somewhere between 30 and 50 commonly used services, quite often companies don't have the resources to have a dedicated social media executive i.e. someone whose responsibility it is to keep writing/editing material for your different social media channels or responding to messages sent to you through your existing accounts. As a result it often falls into the laps of member of staff who have to do this on top of their regular job, which can often be detrimental to their day-to-day work.
Secondly, actually accessing all the different sites can be a time consuming process; it's not efficient. Let's say things are going well and people are retweeting you, liking you, commenting etc. you have to keep nipping in and out of all the different programs to reply or even just monitor all the activity. As a result things can be neglected such as messages from potential leads. It's really important that if you have all these social media channels, you use them. Otherwise it can make you or your company look inactive.
It's also important to have rules in place making it clear how you want your staff to use them and a policy as to how you would like clients/community to use them. By this I mean that if you don't want people using Twitter as a method of contacting you, for let's say customer support, make it clear on your Twitter page how you want them to get in touch. There's no harm in responding if someone should tweet, but it's a good idea directing them to where they should respond rather than resolving it in the open. The idea here is to manage your customers/communities expectations of your social media based engagement.
What can you do? Well at the extreme end of the scale you could employ someone to manage your different accounts for you. The most sensible thing to do, in my opinion, is get smarter with the management of your different channels. Here are some tools that I am familiar with that can help you or your company keep on top of it all.
Tweetdeck works by allowing you to pull in feeds from Twitter and Facebook, allowing you to have a really quick overview of the two biggest social networks. You can set up columns of different information depending on what you want to see but where its real strength lies is allowing you to be able to post messages from itself to those two services. Saving you time, and also stopping a lot of the 'distraction' encountered when looking at Facebook. You can also schedule tweets so that users don't get bombarded should you send out several tweets at once. Get it here
Similar to Tweetdeck but should be considered as the next evolutionary ladder this application allows you to pull in information from multiple social media accounts and extending it with other plugins including for example Klout, a tool that allows you to monitor your social media influence. This article is about managing all your social media but how do you know how well you are managing if you aren't monitoring the numbers, whether these are retweets, likes etc. Klout can help you do this. In total Seesmic can integrate with over 90 other applications... good news. Get it here
Similar to the previous applications but in my opinion the leading tool in managing your social media presence. Why? Well it does what the others do, but beyond this it has a proper reporting and team management systems. The reporting is clear and allows you to quickly gauge what is happening across all of your social channels and gives you something to quickly present to other members of your team. As mentioned earlier there are lots of different social networks you may decide that you can divide your channels amongst a number of individuals, Hootsuite allows you to do this without much fuss. Get it here
So there we go, our quick overview of social media management. If you want to get in touch or see what we are up to, you can obviously email us here, follow us on Twitter, friend/like us on Facebook or connect to us on LinkedIn