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7 Tools to Automate Your Social Media Management
There seems to be two types of people who use social media: Those who use automation tools to multiply their presences across the Internet and those who think auto-anything is a sin against nature.

That may be simplifying things a little, but it’s not too far fetched.

As for me, I fall somewhere in between the extremes – and I’m betting I’m not alone. Sometimes we need some tools to help us manage all our social networks. I understand that using some tools is considered obnoxious behavior by some people. But it’s a free Internet. You make your choices and live with them.

So if you think you can do this responsibly, here are seven social media management software tools to automate your updating and following:

SocialOomph

This website offers many free and premium services to help you manage your Twitter account. And by manage, I mean you can  schedule tweets, send automatic messages to those who follow you and follow all your followers automatically (Which I’m sure can cause a rip in the space-time continuum) for free. The full list of features will take a couple minutes to read.

Sending canned direct messages to welcome new followers is a bit controversial. To many, it’s Spam. Plain and simple. Others don’t mind and appreciate the contact. Those who do employ it swear by it. They say it helps them achieve high numbers of followers. The same goes for automatically following those who follow you.

My favorite though is the e-mail that rounds up all the tweets that manage any of my Twitter handles. Yes, it’s an exercise in ego gratification. I don’t care. I like it.

Hootsuite

Like SocialOomph, Hootsuite will automate your tweets. But it’s most useful feature is how it juggles multiple social media accounts. Not only can you create a dashboard that gives lets you monitor your Twitter accounts, but you can add your Facebook (this includes Facebook pages), LinkedIn, Ping.fm, WordPress blog, MySpace and FourSquare accounts. This is so integrated that you can write one update that goes to any and all of those social media timelines/pages.

I don’t want to do that, but I do use it to monitor and update accounts one at a time. It saves me time to round up all my social media activity onto one page.

TwitterFeed

One of the best ways to get people to read your blog is to send updates to your social networks when you write a new entry. But some people are lucky to get the blog post written. Then they have to write a tweet? Never fear. TwitterFeed comes to the rescue by monitoring your RSS feed and updating your Twitter and Facebook accounts when you update your blog. It’s not pretty but it gets the job done.

I do use this to update @CarlNataleRSS with all the feeds from various blogs I update. Basically, I made this account for my mother who doesn’t know about RSS but wants to keep track of what I write. So it doesn’t hurt my feelings that the account only has three followers.

Ping.fm

This is the granddaddy of updating every social media account in the world. One stop for all your accounts. And it will accept your SMS texts and e-mails for updating.

To be honest, I’m not that interesting that I would need this.

TweetBeep

TweetBeep rather modestly only sends you an e-mail when you – or keywords of your choosing – are mentioned on Twitter. So it’s like Google alerts. It’s great for reputation monitoring, keeping track of what people say about your competition and following specific interests.

Gist

Social networks are like potato chips. You can’t have just one. So if you want to keep track of what your friends and contacts are doing on their multiple networks (assuming they don’t have Ping.fm accounts), Gist will let you know about their latest tweet, post or like.

I consider it a light-weight contact resource manager. Since it also connects to my e-mail accounts, it keeps track of when I communicate with them. I know there are more powerful options out there, but this may be just enough for me.

RSS

OK, this isn’t a specific tool but a technology. One of Twitter’s nicer tendencies is to create RSS feeds for updates. If your RSS reader is how you keep track of the Internet, then add Twitter feeds. Not only can you monitor what any specific tweep posts, but you can have a feed of search results. Again, you can track any keyword.

This works very well for me in Google Reader. I can organize different feeds into categories. This all adds up to a very powerful dashboard. The big drawback is that the updates are delayed. The RSS feeds seem to update on a schedule so it doesn’t give real-time monitoring. Which is fine for me. Your mileage may vary.

For what it’s worth, I don’t see the value of using any of these tools to duplicate messages. Why would someone follow me on Twitter and Facebook if they get the same messages twice? I try to use the networks for specific purposes. But most of the value I get from these tools is in monitoring. There are some very powerful ways to sift through all of those streams.

How do you automate your social media management?

PG

Carl Natale

Carl Natale blogged and produced content for newspaper websites for 13 years before becoming self employed. Now he helps small businesses develop content for their websites and online marketing campaigns when he's not hiking, biking and kayaking.


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