So many claims on the time of a nonprofit staff, and only so many hours in the work day. We might be temped to carry our work home with us, but aren’t the lines between work and family already blurred enough? If you want efficient tools for monitoring and updating your business’s social media, we’d like to suggest a few dashboards that can cull your various accounts into one place, allow scheduling of posts, and offer ways to save and/or reply to specific messages.
Let’s start with a couple of freebies, then move to some heavy-hitting services that require payment.
Perhaps the best-known of the platforms is Hootsuite, and it certainly has a great deal going for it. Like any such dashboards, you can sign into a number of the more popular social-media systems (Facebook, Twitter, , LinkedIn, …) and monitor them all in one place. The free level of service offers users up to five accounts (and a couple of RSS feeds!) and provides useful basic analytics. From there, you can upgrade to a ‘Pro’ account for $5.99 a month, which increases the analytical detail and allows unlimited access to an unlimited number of accounts. For the biggest organizations (think: The Onion, World Wildlife Fund, CBS News..) Hootsuite offers an Enterprise package too.
What perhaps best distinguishes Hootsuite is its web-based interface that allows you to access your materials through a web browser or your smartphone. So there’s no new software to learn or update, which is not to say your staff might need some pointers with the interface once they have accounts. That said, getting your up-to-five accounts integrated into the service is as easy as clicking the + tab at the top, picking which social network you want to add, and filling in your name and password.
Next is iPhone and Android devices (we have not tried it on the Window Mobile OS) is clean and intuitive, and a swipe of the finger left or right moves you among your different accounts. The mobile version even includes a cute popup of the Seesmic mascot whenever you update your streams.which I believe offers one of the best interfaces for mobile devices, whereas the desktop application just misses the mark. The interface on
The web-browser version of Seesmic seems much more intuitive than the downloadable app (available for Mac OS X and Windows), which seemed rather slow to work with. Of course, you might find its layout readily accessible. And it is free. But Seesmic does not offer analytical analysis, which might prove a real limitation for a nonprofit wanting to monitor its tweetstreams, hashtags, and retweets.
Finally, a power player that nevertheless does not overwhelm is Sprout Social, which MCKREATIVEmedia staff use to get hold of our multivalent conversations with clients, colleagues, and information resources. What distinguishes SproutSocial is that it is geared with the nonprofit/charity/small business in mind − that is, with organizations that really need to track social-networking data in various guises and configurations.
Moreover, Sprout Social acts as a team-management system as well, not just scheduling tweets but allowing delegation of responsibilities across a team. Even without these other Customer Relations Management (CRM) features, the ease with which Sprout Social can splice-and-dice your data to see who is responding to which appeal and when already might make it worth the price of admission (the ‘Small Biz’ account is $39 a month for 20 staff members).
Certainly other platforms/dashboards exist, and we’ll turn to them in the near future. Do you have a dashboard you would recommend for our review? Would you add/challenge our report? Please contact us with your experiences!