Monday, October 22, 2012

Managing Your Social Network: Top Tools You Should Use

After having my kids I took a step away from social media except for posting adorable pics of my kids on Facebook. That's about all I had time for - so I thought. My thought process was driven by a severe lack of sleep (which still exists) and a desire to focus on my core tasks which included leading my team. Here's the problem: my role is all about helping out customers and providing the best customer experience possible. In addition, establishing relationships on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn doesn't mean just setting them up and letting them languish. You can do this but when you need these people, don't expect them to respond. Like any relationship, you need to nurture your social network. This doesn't mean connecting with everyone but there are some tools I've started to use that are easy to use and can quickly turn you into a social media rock star.

Top 5 Tools You Should Use to Manage Your Personal Social Media Network

Before we start, when I refer to social media, I'm mostly referring to LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

  1. Buffer. Buffer allows you to setup a bunch of Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook updates to publish on a set schedule. That way if you have interesting things you want to post, you don't have to do it all at once or use another tool where you delay the posting. Just post items to Buffer and they will be published based on the schedule you've setup. In addition, you can use Buffer with other tools like Tweriod or Socialbro (recommended) that will tell you the optimal times to post your updates. That way your posts will get the largest possible audience. You can download a Buffer app for your Iphone or get the browser extension.

    Since using Buffer for only two months, my Klout score has jumped more than 5 points. I can't give all the credit to Buffer as I do have some cute kids and they do get a bunch of likes on Facebook but Buffer is a goldmine. When I have time, I find interesting pieces of information that I hope my audience will like and I post them using Buffer. It allows me to spend some concentrated time and then have posts setup for the next 2-3 days at least.
  2. Flipboard. Flipboard is an app for your Iphone or Ipad that allows you to easily flip through a summary of your social media networks. It allows me to review what others in my network have posted and either like, retweet, +1 or comment on what they have created. I can do it quickly when I'm waiting in line or caught in a subway or flight delay. I see it as the ying to Buffer's yang. Buffer allows me to post more material and Flipboard allows me to better engage my audience. I like it as I can easily listen to what others including friends, colleagues and customers are saying.


    Flipboard has opened my eyes to new people and information that I would never have known about the flipping action of cycling through materials is fun for me. I can setup a number of boards based on my interests (for example, saved Twitter searches) and it also has a highlight reel of top pieces of information from your different social media accounts. I have used it to review my Google Reader RSS feed that I not looked at for 2 years (and never thought I would until my kids went to university). You can even blend Buffer with Flipboard by sending articles you find on Flipboard to Buffer's account email address which will queue up your posts via Buffer.
  3. Pocket (Read it Later). Pocket allows you to save web pages and articles to read them later. I typically use the Iphone bookmark plugin or the browser bookmarklet to capture pages. I then read them using the Iphone app typically when I'm stuck without an internet connection (on a plane or subway). This application also works with Flipboard so I can save items I find there to Pocket to read them later. Once I've read the full article (when I have time), I'll then decide if I should I forward it on to my social network. This is another great application that helps me feed my buffer stream.
  4. Rapportive (or Xobni). Rapportive is a Gmail plugin that allows you to easily social network with people you email to or who you receive email from. When you receive an email or type in an email you'll see their social media profile pop up on the right side and you can see which social networks they're associated with and if you're currently connected. If you're not connected, you can easily connect with them which quickly helps you grow your network. Xobni does basically the same thing for those that use Outlook and there is a version called Smartr for Gmail but I didn't like it as much as Rapportive. I do have Smartr on my Iphone as it does have all of the social media profiles for contacts that are on my phone but I haven't found a use for it just yet.

    What I typically do is provide an item of value (such as a follow up from a meeting) and then request a connection through Twitter and/or LinkedIn using Rapportive. I like this tool as I can expand my social network in the normal context of my working day. If I'm already connected, I may review their latest social media posts and decide to engage with them. I can also refer to this information during meetings etc...
  5. An Iphone. Tying all of these tools together is an Iphone (or an Android phone). In order to make it easy to listen, engage, connect with my social network as well as expand it, I need my Iphone as it allows me to do all of this anywhere and with the swipe of a finger.
You don't have to right off social media or let it control you. You just need the right tools. Hope this helps. Do you have any tools you can recommend?



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