Social media is an essential component to any forward-thinking business, big or small. Whether you’re promoting a product or yourself, it’s the speediest and most cost-effective way to engage your audience and create buzz. In the last 5-6 years, social media has grown from the somewhat simple platforms of Friendster and MySpace to the massive, multi-purpose worlds of Facebook and Twitter.
Niche networks popped up to satisfy specific communities. You’re a photographer? Use Flickr. Relentless networker? LinkedIn’s your place. Both companies and people alike found themselves immersed in multiple platforms, expressing themselves in remarkably different ways on each one. However, there was one small problem. Logging in and out of multiple platforms to post content began taking up time, as did keeping track of the responses accrued in each channel. While the benefits of social media were becoming increasingly clear, the maintenance of multiple channels could sometimes serve as a barrier to productivity.
But in 2012, there’s no need for all that multi-channel, log-in/log-out nonsense.
The social media dashboard is a multi-purpose, time saving tool that provides just about all the solutions a social media/marketing manager could ask for. Previously annoying, repetitive tasks can get whittled down, even planned in advance. Multiple people can manage multiple accounts. Reports can be created that analyze trends and measure metrics that you never even knew existed. It’s not just an effective tool, it’s an essential one. Here’s some reasons why a social media dashboard will help you to engage your audience, measure results, and lessen the intensity of your to-do list.
You can delegate Tweets/posts
Some dashboards enable you to assign certain messages, mentions and queries to certain team members, so you can make sure the correct person in your organization is following up with a customer.
Don’t want to work on the same ho-hum default screen as everyone else? No problem. Certain social media management programs allow you to customize your background so you can express your vibrant individuality on your dashboard. Go on, pick any color you like.
Post to multiple networks
Although best practices often dictate that different channels should have different types of messages, sometimes you want an identical message to reach all your networks. Dashboards let you do this in seconds flat. Select whatever networks you need, and deploy your message- no logging in/out necessary.
You’re not immersed in multiple social media outlets for your own narcissistic pleasure (although I’m sure there are a few exceptions). You want to know who’s listening, who responds, and how you can deepen connections moving forward. Dashboard applications let you set goals, and measure the effectiveness of your campaigns. What’s more, you can explain to your boss/underlings why your initiatives succeeded/failed and plan accordingly to ensure future social media domination.
Some dashboards (such as Hootsuite) contain custom URL shortening tools to track click-thrus on links. These tracked links can also be included in reports for measuring how successful your message/content is.
Stay on top of the chatter
You know how fast social media moves in good times and bad. With the right/wrong circumstances, you could be buried in a sea of responses across multiple channels and have no idea how to proceed. One false move in a crisis situation has the potential to have devastating effects. A dashboard can help you to observe how your organization is being talked about over different outlets, and give you the advantage to spot trends and plan out a long term response strategy instead of playing an endless, frustrating game of catch up.
BUT WHICH ONE SHOULD YOU USE?
There’s a few tools like this on the market right now- some free, some rather expensive. We recommend Hootsuite, which is a “freemium” dashboard application. This means you can use portions of the tool for no charge- but certain features require a “Pro” account which opens you up to a wide range of additional features, like custom reports, ad-free screens, unlimited RSS feeds, vanity URLs, enhanced support, and more. Hootsuite also offers a 30-day trial of their Pro services, so you can try before you buy.
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If you’re looking to streamline your social media tasks and set goals for growth in the new year, Hootsuite is a great place to start.