Why do you need a social media management tool?

The facts
Social media is no longer a “craze”. We’re less than a decade into its existence, and it has already been linked into just about every other media channel there is. Above all, it’s an essential component to growing an online business. Whether you’re a developer, designer, reseller, or self-obsessed web celebrity, a steady online presence on a variety of social networks is a must.

Is this you?
You like sharing videos on YouTube, but still like to Tweet and post to Tumblr and Facebook while maintaining an outpost on Google+.  You have a strong online presence, but spend far too much time ping-ponging back and forth from network to network, logging in and out. You get a lot of followers on Twitter, but some of your profiles are beginning to collect digital dust from not being tended to. There’s a simple way to avoid this kind of disorganization- a social media dashboard.

What’s a social media dashboard?
A social media dashboard is a tool that lets you manage all your different social accounts in one place. You can post to multiple sites, set goals for campaigns, and most importantly, get a larger view of how your online reputation is doing across different channels. Here’s some of the main reasons why you need to jump on the dashboard train:

Collaboration
Do you have more than one person handling the social media duties in your organization? With a social media dashboard in your life, you and your team can share a broader view of what’s going on with your brand in the social world, and pool your resources so things get done faster.

Scheduling
Some dashboards provide you with the ability to schedule posts and Tweets, which can help to amp productivity during busy periods. Take care not to over-schedule, though- too much automated content can sometimes dilute the quality of your efforts and make everything sound too stilted.

Analytics
As social media marketing budgets have increased, there has been a growing emphasis on the measurability of social initiatives.  What are you doing with your social media campaign? How does it benefit your bottom line? Do you have measurable goals? Social dashboards can help you find out how many people you’re engaging, and provide insight into who follows the links you’re posting, among other things.

Many dashboards also let you can create reports that can help you provide concrete explanations for why a campaign is succeeding or falling on its face. If social media is a large part of your job, and you need to produce actionable insights and results related to your social presence on a consistent basis, a social dashboard application is an a essential component for your day to day tasks.

A great tool
HootSuite is a free social media dashboard tool that performs all of the aforementioned tasks, and more. Some of its features include:

It’s free
HootSuite costs nothing. You have the option of upgrading to a “pro” account (which eliminates ads and gives the ability to customize reports and profiles), but there’s also plenty of great features in the free version.

No downloads
HootSuite is a third-party application that doesn’t hog space on your computer,  because there’s nothing to download! You can tweet and post without the added hassles of another application gumming up the works on your laptop/desktop.

Thorough analytics integration
HootSuite lets you integrate your Google Analytics and Facebook Insights accounts into your dashboard, so you can create customizable reports from a variety of different perspectives.

Endless resources
HootSuite also provides a large, diverse archive of video tutorials for users. They cover everything from the basics of using HootSuite to the ins and outs of maximizing your social media efforts. There’s an entire series called “HootSuite University” and a live chat called #HSUchat that helps to steer users towards new heights in social media.

A new tool for a new year
Social media is only going to keep growing into 2012 and beyond, so there’s no reason to succumb to time-wasting traps that hinder productivity. Getting the right tool can make a world of difference for you and your organization.

Click here to check out HootSuite and take the first steps towards getting your social media strategy right for 2012!