Every day, you probably hear about different terms related to social media. Thankfully, you have the IACP Center for Social Media
to help you define
what most of these terms are.
However, what about the technologies you can use to manage your social media? Here are some examples: HootSuite, TweetDeck, Tweetcaster, EchoFon, Peep, TwitBird, Plume, Twidroyd and CoTweet.
If you're now scratching your head and saying, "Echo... phone?" it's OK. Heck, I didn't even know about some of these until I started looking at how my friends were posting information to social media.
All of these are similar to Twitter. The difference is that you're using a single tool or dashboard, or application as it's called on a cell phone, to manage multiple social media sites. By using a single dashboard, you can tweet, post to Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media outlets all from one application. Some can be used on both a desktop computer and cell phones while others may be cell phone only.
The point of a social media dashboard is that it makes it easier for YOU. It's much less work for you to go to one place and post items than go to three or four different sites to have to post the same thing.
For me personally, I've found HootSuite to be one of the easiest to use to manage both my personal and the Richmond Police Department's
social media sites. I currently use the free version, which is great, but if you can afford it, try the paid version. It gives you some really neat analytics and many other options for measuring and studying your tweets and followers.
By using HootSuite, which I do both on my desktop computer and cell phone, I can post to my personal Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn accounts as well as the department's Twitter and Facebook sites with a single check of an icon. One warning: since it is quite easy to post, make sure you're posting to the proper account. While I may love a local restaurant's lunch special, it's probably not a good idea for the Richmond Police Department to tweet such a comment.
These types of dashboards are quite handy, say, if I see something important to tweet from someone I follow on my personal account, but want to tweet it from the department's account. It's also great if I want to share something with both the department's Twitter audience AND the department's Facebook audience. They're not necessarily the same and you should know that. For example, whereas Twitter followers want to know if there's a traffic accident on the route they take to work, Facebook users may not care as much. However, neighborhood newsletters, which tell citizens what's going on in their specific neighborhood, are likely of interest to both audiences.
Another caveat. Just as you don't want to clog anyone's Twitterfeed with multiple, multiple tweets, you don't want to post too many items on Facebook just because you're posting them on Twitter. The audiences are not the same.
A social media dashboard like HootSuite also allows you to create columns with keywords that can help you monitor what people are saying about you or a particular situation. That can be a great help during a crisis or even just to better manage your reputation.
The bottom line is that you need to figure out what works best for you and your agency. So check out those I mentioned above. Look at what your friends and followers are using and try them all out to see what works best.