Smartphones and laptops aside, social media and community managers utilize two major groups of tools: those that help them interface more efficiently with clients, employers, and community members, and those that help them monitor online activity.
Tools to Interface with Clients, Employers, and Community Members
Google Docs and Google Drive
Social media and community managers' work flows are so iterative and fast-paced that there is simply no time to pass around different versions of a word document, spreadsheet, or presentation via email. It is impractical for only one person to be able to update a document at any given time, and it is cumbersome to keep track of which version of a given document is the "current" version (especially when file names end up evolve into monstrosities like "DecemberBlogPost_FinalFinalFinal.doc").
Google Docs enables you to share word documents, spreadsheets, and presentations with fellow staff members (as well as community members, when appropriate). Different sharing settings can enable people to view a document, leave comments, or make updates without having to worry about missing the right version. Widespread use of Google Docs within a company speeds up the collaborative creating and editing processes. It also spares colleagues the need to email you to ask for access to a document (so long as you have shared relevant folders with them).
Because Google Drive enables you to store and share additional file types (e.g. pdf files, Adobe InDesign files, video files, etc.), the tool can also be used for general transfers and storage, enabling you to access documents regardless of your location or device. With the Google Drive app, you can even share files and update documents without cracking a laptop open.
If your employer is not yet familiar or comfortable with Google Drive and Google Docs, consider giving them a general rundown and encouraging its adoption- at least when interfacing with you. It is free (should employers/clients be comfortable using non-branded accounts) and can save an immense amount of time.
Dropbox is a good intermediate solution for social media and community managers who need to be able to easily deliver large files to clients and receive large files in return (e.g. video clips to be posted on YouTube, high resolution images to be used in photo albums, and audio files to be edited into podcasts). Dropbox's mobile apps are ridiculously convenient and powerful.
While Dropbox's free services are typically sufficient for social media and community manager's basic needs, Dropbox for Business offers incredibly powerful additional features that are well worth checking out.
Other File Sharing Tools
Tools for Monitoring Online Activity
For more detailed overviews of the major tools on the market, see our guide to choosing social media monitoring tools.
Most social media and community managers do not use paid services to monitor feeds for their clients. Paid social media monitoring tools, though fun and powerful, are only really cost effective for larger agencies and corporations who employ multiple social media professionals, require advanced reporting functionality, run complex, targeted online campaigns designed to drive sales and conversions, and contend with an immense amount of social media chatter (and not many social media and community managers get started in these sorts of positions).
We therefore recommend playing with the free social media monitoring tools available before shoving out significant chunks of change for paid alternatives.
Free Social Media Monitoring and Posting Tools
- TweetDeck: One of the most popular social media monitoring tools, TweetDeck, alas, only works for Twitter
- (Free) HootSuite: HootSuite's basic version might have limited functionality, but don't let that push you away; the HootSuite community is where you'll really find value- make good use of it
- DoShare: A simple Chrome plugin that makes it easy to craft and schedule posts for Google+ profiles and pages
- Facebook: While there are plenty of third party services that offer Facebook analytics, we have yet to interview a social media and community manager who is not very satisfied with Facebook's native page analytics, which are quite detailed
- Google Analytics: Though Google Analytics has some basic social media monitoring functions through its Social Reports, it is just important to use the tool to keep an eye out for spikes in traffic to your site from various social media channels so that you know when it is worth it to visit a traffic source and join in on the conversation when appropriate (for a good example of chiming in on the conversation after discovering attention from a social network, visit this reddit thread in which a pizza discount site owner asks for genuine feedback when someone shares a link to his service)
Paid Social Media Monitoring Tools
More or less, all paid social media monitoring tools:
- Can only fit within major corporations' budgets (or those of large social media agencies)
- Offer team management tools (workflow management, approval tools, etc.)
- Offer advanced analytic reports
- Offer sentiment analysis
- Cover all major venues for online chatter
- Report on online chatter in real time
Above and beyond the basics, each paid social media tool offers features that make it ideal for more specific types of companies and needs. What matters is that you select a tool that is optimal for your clients' goals, preferences, obsessions, processes, and needs.
- (Paid) HootSuite: Ideal for social media and community managers with small budgets, underlings to monitor, and upper management that would appreciate detailed reporting (or freelance social media and community managers who would like to manage accounts for multiple clients from one interface)
- Radian6 (Salesforce): Good for social media and community managers working for corporate clients who are very concerned with their outward reputations and the opinions of consumers (the tool's sentiment analysis features will come in handy for this) and already use and love Salesforce solutions
- Engagor: Helpful for social media and community managers working for clients and/or employers in countries that other enterprise-level social media monitoring tools do not addresses, as well as those who need to collaborate with, assign work to, and evaluate members of a company's social media team
- Sysomos: Optimal for social media and community managers working on long-term contracts or full-time for businesses or social media agencies that put heavy emphasis on competitive analysis
- Adobe Marketing Cloud: Useful for social media and community managers whose primary objective is to drive sales through highly targeted marketing campaigns (and also for those working for companies who know and love Adobe's other services)
- Spredfast: Good for social media and community managers whose clients or employers are big on Facebook apps and improving their online customer service experiences
- Shoutlet: Helpful for social media and community managers whose clients or employers want to promote check ins at brick-and-mortar locations and/or are very interested in Facebook ads and online contests
- NetBase: Ideal for social media and community managers who frequently have to contend with quickly-unfolding events and crises or would like guidance with designing contests, promotional campaigns, social media strategies, and product launches
- UberVU: Useful for social media and community managers who are supposed to capitalize on trending topics and report on sentiment analysis, but have trouble recognizing trending topics as they rise and determining when certain sentiments are actually significant
- ExactTarget SocialEngage: Optimal for social media and community managers who would like extra help designing goals and whose clients place a heavy emphasis on Facebook (e.g. page functionality, Facebook contests, etc.)
- Sprout Social: Perfect for social media and community managers who run ambassador programs and need help identifying top users and key influencers that are worth special attention, as well as those whose clients have a heavy customer service emphasis and utilize ZenDesk, UserVoice, and/or Salesforce (Sprout Social integrates with each of them quite well)
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