Welcome back, readers! The May edition of ‘According To’ features Ian Lurie, an expert on internet, search, and social media marketing. Ian is founder and CEO of Portent Inc., an interactive marketing agency in Seattle, Washington. I was able to see Ian share his Dungeons and Dragons Guide To Social Media at a SEMpdx event this past October and am always getting great tips from his posts on Conversation Marketing. I was very excited when Ian agreed to contribute to this blog series and he will be sharing 5 social media tools that he can’t live without.
Take it away, Ian!
5 Social Media Tools I Can’t Live Without, by Ian Lurie
I’m not much of a tools guy. I’m writing this post in a text editor. To me, CURL has a really nice user interface.
But, I have my limits. I’m not going to script and number crunch one mind-numbing task after another if someone else already did it for me.
At the same time, social media is filled with all sorts of juicy data I want to sink my geeky teeth into. So, what’s a data-loving tools curmudgeon to do? Find some really fantastic tools, of course. Preferably that all work with each other. So, here’s my list of social media gadgets, tools and toys I just can’t live without:
Buffer is numero uno on my list. If you aren’t using this yet, you need to go sign up right this instant. Go! Now! I’ll wait here.
Buffer lets you schedule tweets and posts to LinkedIn and Facebook. If you know me, you know I’ve been a huge fan of Timely for a while, because it does the same thing. But Buffer is a big-time over-achiever. In addition to the basic scheduling functions, it also:
- Lets you customize the posting schedule, including a different schedule for different accounts, pages and days of the week;
- Provides great high-level analytics regarding retweets, clicks and the followers who make them;
- Has a mobile version;
- Works with a huge array of other apps and tools, like Google Reader, SocialBro, Pocket and IFTTT. I’ll get to those next.
- Has an API (Application Programming Interface) for all you hardcore geeks.
Here’s some of the analytics awesomeness:
Buffer is free for 10 posts in your buffer and one account on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. It’s $10/month for 50 posts and about twice as much of everything else. You can see the pricing details here.
SocialBro is a bit of an odd bird. Which is why we get along so well. Instead of a web-based tool, SocialBro is a browser extension or desktop app (you choose) that you install. Once you have it, you can access all sorts of nifty reports and community management tools.
And, get this: You can automatically import your best times into your Buffer account. I nearly wept when I saw that.
SocialBro is free to start. It costs a whopping $5.99 a month for the Pro version, which gives you a few more bells and whistles.
Pocket, previously known as ReaditLater, lets you store and organize pages you want to read, but can’t get to right now.
I know: Yawn. But I like Pocket’s interface, snappy performance and the fact that it, too, integrates with IFTTT. Oh, and it has an API.
You’re probably wondering what the heck IFTTT is by now. Don’t worry—I’ll get there. It’s the last tool I talk about, and it’s not last just to torture you, I promise.
4. Google Reader
Google Reader is the one big-name player in this list. I love Reader, even after a soul-killing interface update. Reader lets you organize RSS feeds by the dozens (or hundreds, if you’re as psycho as me).
You probably already know about Reader’s ability to handle feeds. But it also offers:
- Feed and tag ‘bundling’ into custom pages and feeds you can provide to others;
- Buffer integration;
- And yes it has an API in case you want to do some extending stuff.
Bundles in Google Reader. Kinda neat, right?
Google Reader is free, of course. The only price: Your soul.
I’m kidding about the soul part. I hope.
5. If This Then That (IFTTT)
IFTTT is the glue that ties all of this together. It’s a kind of point-and-click interface for moving information around between various social networks, e-mail and other tools.
IFTTT is the plumbing between all these networks.
I use IFTTT to:
- Move any links that I tweet to Pocket, so I have them for later.
- Save Twitter handles for anyone who mentions me more than X times to a list, so I can thank them/make sure I reciprocate.
- Save any RSS feed items I tag with ‘portent’ to Pocket with a specific tag.
- Save any RSS feed items I tag with a client name to Pocket with that client name, so I can remember to forward those links to them later on.
IFTTT also works with Buffer, Tumblr, YouTube and just about any other network you can think of.
Integration is key
These tools work for me because I can tie them all together. They either work directly with each other (like Buffer and Socialbro) or via IFTTT. And, they all have APIs, so I can customize a bit if I want to later.
When you’re looking at tools, look for this kind of integration. You may not need it now, but the flexibility it gives you will come in handy later.
What tools do you use?
I’m always on the lookout for cool new stuff. If you’ve got a social media gadget you love, leave a comment! I’ll check it out.