Zestee Social Media School – Week 11 – Social Media Dashboards

Welcome to week 11 of Social Media School.  Whether you’re new to this course or have been following us all along, great to have you with us.  You can access previous lessons here:

So by now are you a little overwhelmed by all the different social media tools and wondering how you are going to manage them all?  This week we are looking into various social media dashboards to help you do that.

Here is the link to the week 11 lesson (click to access the pdf):

So why use a social media dashboard?  

Five top reasons for using a social media dashboard for your business are to:

  1. Manage various social media profiles all in one place
  2. Track mentions of your brand or even keywords
  3. Schedule messages at certain times (e.g. when you may not be online but your target audience is)
  4. Analyse social media traffic
  5. Create and track custom shortened URLs
Most of the social media dashboards allow you to manage your account from either a desktop computer/laptop and/or your mobile/smart phone.  Remember though that the interface can be different (for example the mobile version may be more limited).
Here is a blog post which lists 10 social media dashboards you might like to look into.  Another post actually covers around 40 social media dashboards & tools including paid options.
For this week’s lesson I have chosen four tools to discuss which all have free options.  The first two fall more strictly into the social media dashboards category, the last two are a little different in that they are more focussed on measuring your online brand and influence but also have some aspects and benefit of dashboards as listed above.

1.  Hootsuite

There is a basic free account which allows you to manage up to 5 social profiles and with quick reports, or you can pay US$5.99 a month for the pro version with unlimited profiles and more tools such as Facebook and Google Analytics integration.

The tools it allows you to manage are Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare, WordPress and a few more all from one place.

Hootsuite

It can be a bit overwhelming and confusing when you first log on so you might like to start with the HootSuite Help page.

2.  TweetDeck

As the name suggests, this is a Twitter focussed dashboard but you can also manage your Facebook account from here.

The explanation on their website is that “TweetDeck is an app that brings more flexibility and insight to power users.”.  You can customise columns to arrange content, filter through information, schedule tweets and monitor a number of accounts.

tweet deck

I’ve used Tweetdeck on my mobile a few times but am not a heavy Twitter user so have found it just as simple to log into my Twitter account.  Although I do like using a slightly different interface than Twitter and Facebook.  It’s a bit small on my iPhone screen so now I’ve just bought an iPad (yay!) I might try that out, or play around a little more on my laptop as it is good to be able to see a number of columns all together as the screenshot above shows.

3.  SocialOomph

This is a tool which I have not yet used personally but am looking into right now (and plan to sign up tonight!).   It’s quite a basic-looking website but offers a lot of powerful features, many of these for free.  As their tagline says “boost your productivity” and sums up WHY you would use tools such as this – by tracking and measuring results and organising information from your various social media accounts, this can help you run a more effective and productive social media campaign.  I’ll report back on this one when I’ve used it for a while.

4.  Klout

Klout is not a social media dashboard but I’ve included it here as it’s an interesting tool that measures influence across social media platforms.

I registered with this some time ago and find it a really interesting concept to be able to have some measure of your influence across several social media networks.

You can read the guide to Understanding Klout for an introduction to this tool.  It takes some time for scores to be analysed as it measures over 90 days so I’d suggest registering and checking back sometime later.   I also don’t think it’s incredibly accurate for a number of reasons but they are continuing to add connections to your profile (such as your Facebook business pages) but is an interesting exercise to look through how you compare to others and also the topics Klout automatically assigns you to from your ongoing online conversations – those for me are fairly accurate.  Two of mine are parenting & social media which are accurate – but another is Sydney which is not!  You can suggest alterations from these and reading through the understanding link above will explain more.

klout renee

I also like that you can compare yourself to others, along with reports on which tools you both use…I would like to get more of a balance below with Facebook not being so dominant.  Here I have compared myself to a friend and blogger I admire…Kelly from Be A Fun Mum.  It does clearly show she is much more active on Twitter than I am (she is shown in blue, me in orange)…in fact she’s one of my influences to use Twitter more and was our guest for the Twitter & Blogging chats online for this course.

So that is an introduction to four tools I think are well worth checking out as part of your social media strategy and planning.

Two things to watch out for when using social media dashboards.

1.  Security & Privacy

When connecting accounts you are often authorising one tool to access data from another.  As suggested back in lesson 1 (social media strategy), you will want to make sure you understand and regularly check the security and privacy settings of each tool.  Klout has a neat summary of each network with links to pages on security and privacy (as per screenshot below – click here to go to the Klout Privacy page for the actual links)

klout privacy

2.  Automated posts vs organic posts

It can be very tempting with social media dashboards to schedule a lot of posts and then sit back and take a break from social media.  You can also connect tools such as Facebook and Twitter so that you can “kill two birds with one stone” and cross-post across both networks at the same time.  However keep in mind that this can make a big difference to the way you connect with your audience.  Take note of this yourself when using social media – often you can see on Facebook for example that a post is via Hootsuite or Tweetdeck.  Or you may notice a post on Facebook with a number of @# type symbols that are more common on Twitter.  Another example is that a post may pose a question to which people will reply or begin a heated discussion….but the page owner or brand is no-where to be seen in the conversation.  This can seriously affect whether people will have a conversation and form a relationship with you or not.  Compare this to “organic” posts where you are actually making the post at the time and engaging actively in the conversation.

Of course with increasingly more social networks to manage we can’t be everywhere at once and tools like social media dashboards can help – however I think you need to still be actively involved in conversations.

So this completes our introduction to social media dashboards.  Personally, I do not yet use any of these tools in much depth but think it’s important to understand what they offer and how they can be used in your business.  As we discussed last week in Surveys and Statistics, it’s important to spend time measuring your effectiveness and return on investment (whether that be money or time…or both).

Even in preparing this lesson I have learnt more about each tool and there is huge potential to use social media dashboards as your brand and business grow.  I’m still keen to know more and hope you are too, come back and share your experiences!

So just one week left of our Zestee Social Media School 12 week free online social media course…see you next Tuesday 24th April 2012 at 8pm Brisbane time for the final lesson on other social media tools we have not yet discussed…including the increasingly popular Pinterest.

Feedback is always most welcome, you can contact me via this site or comment below.

Renee Veldman-Tentori

2 Replies to “Zestee Social Media School – Week 11 – Social Media Dashboards”

  1. Oh no … I’ve missed it again! I can see I have some reading to do. Thank you Renee for holding this 12 week course. The information has been very helpful and it’s nice to know there are others out there looking and wanting to know the same things as me.
    Kylie

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