Tools for a smart digital presence

Social media can be pretty chaotic. While that might be a part of the game, it's also a tough challenge for those who intend to invest in marketing using digital channels.

Unlike classical communication where one "cries" out a message, social media open for a dialogue with companies and organizations in a way never before possible. It is not at all unusual that it is the target group who initiates the dialogue.

Therefore, it is important to keep track. Here are some tips that might help you with your "digital investments".

Listen

The first thing you should do before you even kick off a few channels is......(drum roll....) to listen. What are people, market and media saying about your business? Does one talk about the things you do? Is the tone or form positive or negative? Or, are no one saying anything at all? You're neither on the grid, or anyone's radar?

There are different tools and methods for listening, some are free, but for a longer term commercial approach I'd recommend you latch onto one or more of the existing professional monitoring services.

Free tools to listen with

Twitter

The Twitter search engine is both pretty exemplary and exceedingly useful. Whatever you are looking for, you may get results in real time. However, if your search isn't very granular, expect to get.. yep, just about anything. As of 2013 Twitter opened up for search history. I've conducted some tests and, even though it's impossible to know to what extent history is preserved, it does appear tweets, going back to the beginning (July 2006) can be retrieved.

This of course means that all while Twitter only revealed 7 days of history uptil 2013, they had in fact kept all logs, posts and tweets intact. Shouldn't come as a huge surprise should it? The next question one feel might feel compelled to raise is, so what about deleted tweets? Are they really deleted? Based on this observation I'd suggest .. nope. BUT, when you delete a tweet it is, if nothing else, withdrawn from public scrutiny.

Twitter on the other hand, like Google, and others might have chosen to preserve data indefinitely. You know... Big Data, contextual analysis of the more elaborate kind. Data is power = knowledge = money, somewhere, to someone.  

Be that as it may, below...

A simple approach to Twitter search history: use the string and change what it's bold, i.e. search word (can also be hashtag if you like) and date/year from/to  
https://twitter.com/search?q=jazz%20since%3A2006-07-01%20until%3A2007-09-01&src=typd

The only requirement to get started on Twitter is your own account. If you want to wait to sign up for your company, you can create a temporary account or use your personal. 

Conventional approach; log onto Twitter, from your computer or mobile phone / e-reader, enter search term in the search field. If you type a word with a # in front of you'll get # or hashtags. Search will then be limited to hashtags only. Without # so you can search for all instances of the word.

If you want a higher granularity, try using Advanced search.

Hootsuite

is a "freemium" tool (both free and paid accounts) that has many functions. Key features of HootSuite is publishing, monitoring and analysis. I will return to this service a little later in this article, but bear in mind that HootSuite can have multiple searches in parallel. Each search will get its own column and this gives you a very good overview if you are monitoring multiple keywords.

Available in both web version and as an app for mobiles / tablets.

Premuim tools to listen with

Select tools based on where you have your main marketing. If you have an international business you can use tools adapted to the largest global digital channels. If however, you operate in a local market, such as for instance Sweden or Scandinavia, you might benefit from hiring companies with tools adapted to the market. The most important thing however, is that you select a tool that you understand and feel comfortable with.

Since on the topic of Scnadinavia it's pertinent to mention three Swedish companies with surveillance tools for social media. They are called NotifiedLissly and Twintip Insights. While they may not have all the features major international instrument got, simplicity, ease of use and quick support or customization assistance might win you over.

Whichever you choose, ask to try before you buy. Among them you might find a (for you) winner?

Handle smart

If your digital presence begins extends over several different channels it quickly will become awkward to manage each account separately, manually. You must cope with publishing, measurement and response at the same time. Fortunately, there are good tools to aid you, new players in this field emerges all the time.

Here are two tools that that have been used by many professionals, with excellent good results. Both are available in free versions, and payment services. Try the free version before you decide which tool is best for you.

Bufferapp

The basic idea for Bufferapp is simple; create publication schedules and produce your publications with the tool. Bufferapp then looks at publication dates set. For example, in a normal case, when you read a number of articles you tweet out, all your tweets will follow consecutively. Then your "channel" might fall silent for a while, with the subsequent effect that you loose momentum. If you use publishing schedule in Bufferapp you can spread your tweets over time and your followers get a more even flow of communication.

The free version works for easy scheduling of personal profiles of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. In the paid version, you can work in teams with others, have different schedules every day and have many more profiles and pages. Plus, you get a detailed analysis of the responses to your posts!

HootSuite

In the free version of HootSuite you may have a limited number of accounts. However the tool gives still gives you many good features to start with. One favorite feature is following searches where each search gets its own column. The simplest paid version costs from USD$9 per month, but still is very powerful and supports many digital channels.

For larger organizations is an enterprise version with support for, among other teams, where you can control which people should be able to handle or just read.

Other smart tools

Klout

Today there are many services which gives you a measure of how "social" or influental you/your company is in social media. Klout was one of the first and one of the most famous. In the US, many people in the digital industry's mention Klout in their CV.

Feedly

Keep yourself up to date with this news service. Subscribe to different topics and news sources and Feedly takes care of the rest. You don't have to work to surf around to all the sites you usually read, instead gather it all in ordered information flows.

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Flipboard

News service in an innovative format for iPad and iPhone. One nice feature of Flipboard is that one can create one's own magazine that can be shared with others or used as a kind of smart bookmarks for oneself.

Rebelmouse

Collect all your social feeds and publish them on a single page. Free for personal use. Available in premium version with the possibility of adaptations for your own company profile.

Paper.Li

Publish your own web magazines without writing a line yourself. Everything is based on search in Google, Twitter and/or lists of Twitter. Paper.li gathers articles mentioned and makes a magazine of articles. It sorts through the contents of different subjects automatically.

Pocket

A clever way to gather, and share, bookmarks. Available in premium edition which also gives you the ability to save articles even if they are removed from the web.

Profiles in Google Chrome

Got more than one Google account? Then use Google Chrome or the more stripped down open source version Chromium, Avoid the nuisance of having to log in and out of different accounts. In Chrome (or Chromium) you can create unique browser profiles for each of your Google accounts and switch between profiles.

Also other account, such as Twitter can be distributed between the different profiles and the browser remembers the login for each account.

The list keeps growing

I've only mentioned the tip of the iceberg. As goes with all applications and services new offers pops up all the time. Some of these might not hang around for long, others are surviors that gain traction over time. It might however be fairly safe to say that whilst using just some of the aforementioned tools your control over communication, as well as input, by far will exceed an analog approach!  

Disclaimer: this article was originally written by Rolf Lindstrom, Digital Communications Manager ABB Sweden, a former colleague of mine, in his native tongue. Slightly re-edited and adapted yet the body remains intact, thanks Rolf!