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Building a Social Media Toolbox
Building a Social Media Toolbox
Social media tools to keep you from throwing a hammer through the wall

Last year, my wife and I moved into a fixer-upper. Since then, I’ve found that I inherited my father’s frustrated huff. My wife once said that it sounds like a bear telling someone to take a few steps back. If a house project really starts to stray from the blueprints, I emit this teeth-clenched growl from somewhere deep in my throat. Apparently, these noises are unnerving to those nearby, whether my wife, our cats, or stray packs of hyenas.

I do it to myself. I like fixing things around the house. But often, I get back from the hardware store with all the materials I need for the job, except that one specialized tool that would make it go much, much easier. Instead of making another trip to Lowe’s for the tool, I just duct tape a few screwdrivers and a band saw together and give it a go. And well, long story short—my wife isn’t particularly fond of working with me on projects around the house.

For a lot of small to mid-sized companies, social media is a forgotten or undervalued thing. Usually, not devoting resources to social media is a capacity issue. They recognize social media as a valuable thing in today’s world. They just don’t have the time to devote to it. It can be tedious. It can be hard to find things to share. And I get that.

I learned early on that managing social media for yourself or for your business is pretty similar to building a set of stairs. You can get it done with a hammer and a handsaw, but it’s a helluva lot faster and easier when you have the right tools.

A Good Desktop Platform
It can get pretty tedious signing in and out of different Twitter accounts, or going to Facebook then LinkedIn then Google+, etc. Having a good desktop platform on your computer can save you a lot of that hassle. There’s not a standard around the office, but we tend to gravitate towards TweetDeck and HootSuite. Both enable you to manage multiple accounts, schedule tweets and posts, and come with some nice reporting features, but HootSuite has the added bonus of working with most of the major social media platforms—Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. TweetDeck is solely for Twitter.

A Handy Smartphone App
Long ago in a galaxy far, far away, we used to tweet from our phones via text message. These days, there are dozens of social media apps out there. HootSuite exists for your smartphone, too, which is convenient if you’re using the desktop platform. Like its desktop version, it works with the major platforms. If we’re talking just Twitter, I highly recommend TweetBot. You can manage multiple accounts, and it has some cool customization options that make searching, listing, blocking, and other common actions easier to use.

A Way to Say Something
Sometimes the hardest part about social media is finding things to share. We have Google Alerts set up for all our clients and specific terms related to their businesses, so if any good news breaks online, we are on top of it. Pocket is an awesome plugin for your browser that let’s you save interesting online articles for later reading and sharing. This is great for keeping stories on hand to post at the best times or for days when you’ve already posted 3 or 4 times and you don’t want to annoy your followers.

And, not to be outdone, the newspaper remains a daily source of great, share-worthy material. Even if they’re not covering something specific to your business, promoting local news, organizations, and events is a small way to take part in your community.

A Particular Set of Skills
Finally, I want to be clear that the hammer doesn’t make the carpenter. Good tools can make it easier, but an eye for a true angle and paying close attention to your cut lines is what truly separates shoddy craftsmanship from true tradesmen and women.

Being good at social media still takes time, attention, and no small measure of curiosity for your business. It helps to know when to post things and how often. It helps to have a strategy, to know what you’re trying to accomplish on social media.

And, it helps to really like people. To really want to interact with them and share with them. First and foremost, be a human. Be interesting, but more importantly, be interested. The Followers will follow.