As freelance article writers, we’re often asked to write blog posts and manage WordPress comments for our clients. We also look after social media accounts, making sure web content and blogs are well-publicised in order to trigger viral shares. It takes time to write content, and it takes even more time to stay on top of lots of different accounts and ensure you’re using them all in the right way.
There are no shortage of tools for the job, but here are six social media management services that our freelance article writers use to stay on top of multiple message streams.
Dlvr.it is a syndication tool that allows you to repackage your blog RSS feed and pass each new post through to your social media accounts. It provides a functional one-way stream, automatically updating your social media channels each time a new article is posted to your blog. This is ideal if you use different freelance article writers to generate a constant stream of blogs – you don’t need to manually check and update your feed each time someone posts something new.
Contrary to what you might think, too much automation is not necessarily a good thing. Social media is – well – social. For best results, you need to put some time into interacting with your followers. But if you just want a basic set-and-forget solution to getting those blog posts out there, dlvr.it is certainly not bad. We’ve been using it for years, and its versatility of combining streams, auto-hashtagging and scheduled updating makes it worth a try. Consider another solution for Facebook though, as it rarely triggers the kind of interaction you’ll need.
Tweetdeck is a beautifully designed tool which has effortlessly made the transition from app to web app. It’s now owned by Twitter, and it’s available through your browser in the cloud, as a Chrome extension, on smartphones and on your desktop.
Tweetdeck is good for people with lots of followers, or companies who get lots of replies and DMs, as you can see them all laid out in one interface. It’s also good for monitoring multiple accounts if you have the space on your monitor for all those columns. You can scroll around if not, but it’s not quite as easy to see everything.
Columns can be moved and are completely customisable. For example, if you track a hashtag, you can set up a column for it. You can also have a column set up for particular words and phrases that you’re interested in monitoring. This makes it an efficient tool for watching trends and keywords. I also like how new followers appear in your stream, alerting you and giving you the option to follow back. Unfortunately following someone is a four-click process: it would be nicer if this were a little easier to achieve with a single click.
Ping.fm is another tool that has been around for a while, and we’ve been using it in conjunction with dlvr.it for basic one-way updates for several years. It’s triggered by a manual process: write one status update and Ping.fm sends it out to all networks on your behalf. Ping.fm is incredibly versatile, and the content that appears on the social networks you select will vary depending on the format you need.
Ping.fm is about to partner with Seesmic, and it hooks in to more than 30 networks in total. It also works with some social networking sites that other sites simply don’t cover. That makes it ideal for freelance article writers who blog for niche sites on a regular basis.
Desk.com (previously Assistly) is a paid customer support solution in the cloud with some interesting social networking features. Although it’s more of a helpdesk tool, it’s a useful option for people who want to encourage engagement on social media. It helps you track interaction and conversations as helpdesk style tickets called ‘cases’.
By linking your Twitter and Facebook pages to Desk.com, you can track conversations in one place. You also have the option of linking a Support mailbox to the same Desk.com interface. This kind of ‘social helpdesk’ is something that’s slowly appearing in much more expensive service desk packages, but if you only need the basics, this is a good place to start.
Desk.com isn’t a SaaS product every company will find useful, but if social conversations are tough for your team to manage, it might be worth looking at. Bringing tweets into a mailbox interface makes it much easier to keep conversations in one stream, so different freelance article writers can work on the same conversations seamlessly. Desk.com also makes it very easy for you to track keywords on social media and respond proactively to tweets about your brand: customers really like this. Threadsy is another similar product which is worth a look.
Want to generate a constant stream of updates without irritating your followers? Buffer is the tool for you. Use it to set up scheduled tweets to spread a marketing campaign more evenly, or ensuring your social media accounts are updated when you’re away from your computer for a holiday (or overnight). Simply pre-compose your tweets and add them to a queue – Buffer does the rest.
Sometimes a great article is lost in the ‘noise’ of Twitter streams. Set Buffer up to publicise old posts automatically, getting the maximum value from the blogs and articles you paid your freelance article writers to create.
The features are a little basic compared to some of the other sites we use, but it definitely has its niche. Capacity is limited though, so you’ll need to pay (or refer people) to get more space.
Analytics is a buzzword you’ll have come across if you’ve worked on social media and SEO projects as a freelance article writer. Hootsuite really excels in this area. It tracks all the clicks you get through all social media and can produce custom reports based on your content, shares and interactions. Hootsuite is another tool which has evolved from app to web in a very short space of time, and it has a really eye-catching layout that makes social media management a joy.
Hootsuite combines elements of all of the social networking tools above in one interface. It has the auto-posting abilities of dlvr.it and Buffer, the pleasing column-based layout of Tweetdeck and the thread-tracking and team working features of Desk.com. It also hooks straight into Ping.fm, giving you the ability to post to just about any social network you can imagine. Best of all? It’s free.
Got any more suggestions? Please tell us your favourites in the comments.