Managing Social Media: maneuvering your all-important “balancing act”

Before we explore some of the best social media management tools out there, lets talk about why they are so important!

I realized I may have left you guys hanging a little bit….

My last couple of posts spoke about social media strategies and how they are affected by the ways we structure our organization. There were two parts; one was on the implications of operating under the TALL organizational model, and the other was on the same implications but under the FLAT organizational model. By analyzing social media performance within the hierarchical and divisional organizational structures (TALL) as well as the horizontal and matrix structures (FLAT), we discovered one consistency: the “balancing act” of control and flexibility.

Every organization that utilizes a social media strategy, which I believe is absolutely necessary for organizations to stay relevant today, will experience this balancing act. It is important to stay flexible with the use of social media, in order to respond to current events and stay immersed in the many constantly evolving conversations online. A great example of this was Oreo‘s ad during the 2013 SuperBowl, where they posted a smart and spontaneous marketing campaign with a picture of an Oreo cookie surrounded by fading light reading “You can still dunk in the dark.” With over 15,000 retweets within the first day, the ad went viral because social media allowed them to stay relevant and topical to their audience, stressing the importance of staying flexible with your social media presence.

But don’t forget, as the biggest social media failures of last year remind us, being too flexible online can lead to damaged reputations. There is a need for control, but within reason. Even Oreo had a social media command center set-up during the game, complete with business execs, ad agency reps, a creative team, and their tech-support team ready to pounce on any new development. Now I’m not saying we all need to go to this extreme, but control is important within any social media strategy in order to ensure that nothing we post will be regretted later. Luckily, for Oreo their heavy investment during the Super Bowl paid off; but not all of us have these resources available to us. We do have access to social media though, and the many tools available that can help alleviate the finicky balance of control and flexibility, even for small organizations.

Here are some online tools that can help you operate your social media strategy:

[ 1 ] HootSuite

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HootSuite is by far one of the most popular, if not the most popular, social media management systems out there. If you don’t believe me, try the 30-day free trial for yourself. HootSuite provides the essentials; connecting multiple social media accounts through the one platform, scheduling your posts on each account, providing short URLs, and providing analytic tools on all of it. Aesthetic customization is available as well, but most importantly it is a proven and trusted system that allows everyone from start-ups to enterprises manage their social media activity.

images-4HootSuite allows you to manage your team and their individual posts. The Enterprise account provides you with Geo-Tracking options, for personalized ads and posts on Facebook. Further, HootSuite Conversations allows you to communicate with your team through the platform itself. Essentially, it allows you to strategize your strategy, in a private, centralized, and easily accessible space for everyone. Bonus features include HootSuite University (a “social media for dummies” library) and full support through HootCare.

[ 2 ] SproutSocial

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SproutSocial is comparable to HootSuite. It provides extensive analytics; allowing you to track hits, audiences, team members, and impressions as well as the demographics of your fans, followers, and influencers. So for the analytics nerd, SproutSocial can give you that extra edge on your social media content. SproutSocial gives you real-time numbers on your profile, and gives you the ability to pick and choose the best times to post and share.

sproutsocial_logoThe platform is highly recommended by John Saunders, a Digital Marketing Specialist and experienced user of many online social media management systems, during his in-depth and personal review. One of the best assets that this platform offers is a real-time review on your ROI. It allows you to see where your investments are going on social media and what kind of impression it is making on your audience.

I would recommend checking this one out, for FREE.

[ 3 ] Sendible

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Sendible is a little more basic, for those of you just starting your social media self-brand. However, it offers everything a social business needs. It allows team collaboration, publishing and engagement tools, all with analytic research attached. Further, SocialSprout records your interactions, aggregating a comprehensive “client phonebook” automatically, and has mobile options for the busiest of SocialOrgs.

SendibleFinalSendible offers an impressive array of compatible platforms. Keep in mind, similar to most management platforms, the price increases by the number of accounts you connect to it, but the platform has been recommended before. Its major fallback is the fact that it doesn’t have any free subscription options, so no test driving this one.

[ 4 ] SocialFlow

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Although SocialFlow isn’t as versatile as the pervious three options, it provides one great perk. SocialFlow allows you to watch your Twitter and Facebook data in order to discover the peak-times for posting to attain your highest ROI. It watches to see when your audience is most active and most receptive, to get you maximum exposure.

[ SUMMARY ]

Use these tools! They are the key to managing social media strategies that are controlled by multiple users. Let me know if you use any other tools that deserve some recognition. There are many out there, all of which help you establish a middle-ground between controlling your social media content and allowing it to spread responsibly.

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