We all know that using social media is a solid way to boost your brand awareness or gain the attention of potential customers. For instance, Google includes Tweets in their search results and your activity on social media sites is increasing being ranked by services like Klout, PeerIndex, PostRank, Quora and others. So the question for many of us is – how can we leverage social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to our advantage and get the most bang for our buck? Here's a list of the free online social media applications that I'm using and why you can take advantage of them too.
Timely – use Timely for scheduling Tweets so that you can Tweet while you sleep (among other things). The advantage of using Timely versus a multitude of other Twitter scheduling apps, is that Timely takes the guess work out of scheduling Tweets. Here's what I mean – when I use HootSuite for scheduling Tweets I try to make an educated guess what time I should schedule the message. Timely takes the guess work out of this process by analyzing my stream to determine optimal time for engagement. Essentially what Timely does is evaluate the performance of your last 199 Tweets and (based on native Retweets) applies additional filters to calculate when your Tweets will be more effective.
Here's what I like about Timely:
- I can manage multiple Twitter accounts
- Use bit.ly url shortening by adding my account key
- Invite collaborators to compose Tweets from the same account
- Set the number of Tweets per day (choose from 1, 3, 5, or 9)
- Schedule Tweets with the Timely bookmarklet (more about bookmarklets later)
Many of you might be using Buffer App which is another Twitter App based on a similar concept of scheduling Tweets during optimal times, but IMHO Timely is a better choice if you want to track results.
UPDATE: Based on some conversations here with Buffer Team Member Leo, Buffer is working on releasing some built in analytics features too. Read reviews from around the web about Buffer
Timely will show the number of clicks and retweets for each of the Tweets you distribute using the handy social media app – that's something that Buffer doesn't offer!
Once you start using Timely don't be annoyed by the emails you get from them indicating that you need to schedule another Tweet. Simply open the email and click the box to stop the notifications and you'll never get notices in your inbox again. I manage 4 Twitter accounts in Timely and I haven't scheduled a Tweet from HootSuite since I started using it. Give Timely a try and let me know what you think of it.
Insider Tips for Social Media Success on Facebook
Scheduling posts on Facebook is an entirely different story and it's one that you will need to make a decision about if you haven't done it already. Prior to the recent Facebook Fan Page Upgrade I used Amplify to schedule shares to the Fan Page that I manage for my day job. As it turns out Facebook devalues the importance of posts coming from third party apps.
I know, I know this is shocking news and I would not have believed it myself until I watched a private YouTube webinar from Paul Colligan called new rules of Facebook. If you want to watch, you can get access from Paul's Facebook Page or by requesting the private link on his blog. I watched the entire webinar and I wanted spread the news because not many people are talking about this. Paul shows the details of Facebook posting experiments he's conducting and he also gives a comprehensive overview of the latest Fan Page Upgrade.
Paul makes his point by showing us that when he shared posts directly on Facebook, the number of impressions is significantly higher than when he shared them from a third party app. Wow, this is big news for many Fan Page owners, because it means that scheduling Facebook posts is somewhat obsolete depending on your goals. In other words, there's just no sleeping on the job when it comes to optimizing Facebook!
Personally, I can live without scheduling Facebook posts – or the impact from the potential loss of impressions if I do, but what I'd like is to have more control over is the thumbnail images that appear on my Facebook shares. Don't you agree? There's nothing more disappointing about finding a fantastic piece of content on the web and sharing it with your Facebook friends and fans with an inappropriate image! Third party services like HootSuite do a better job than Facebook of helping you assign thumbnail images – and creating naturally engaging headlines – for your Fan Page Shares. So guess what – there's an app for that too!
Handy Social Media Bookmarklets
Professional web developer Ashish K Saini aka Ashfame created an awesome WordPress plugin to fix FaceBook Like Thumbnail. Which is great for controlling the thumbnail that appears when other's share posts from our WordPress blogs. But what's really cool is that, after a comment I left on Ashfame's blog, he coded a Facebook Share Bookmarklet to fix the thumbnail problem when we share content from other blogs! This bookmarklet works like a charm and although I haven't compared it to other sharing tools, I like the convenience and I know you will too. Click the image (featuring the conversation from Ashfame's blog comments) and get the code for the bookmarklet. Just drag and drop it onto your browser bar.
Don't forget to download Ashfame's Facebook Thumbnail fix plugin and give it a rating in the WordPress repository.
Bookmarklet to Track Your Impact on Social Media
Ok, now that you've done your due-diligence and Tweeted while you were asleep and shared quality content on Facebook with the proper image and niche related branding, you want to gage the effectiveness of your efforts.
I'm sure you're familiar with a popular tracking service called BackType and how you can sign up for social media alerts. Now, thanks to a wonderful Bookmarklet from Kevin Sablan you easily use Backtype to Measure Engagement With One Click. Click the image to go to Kevin's blog and get BackType Stats.
BackType Stats allow you to track the following points of engagement:
- Recent Tweeters
- Retweets from Influencers
- Link Clicks
- Facebook Likes
- Facebook Shares
- Facebook Comments
- Digg comments
In this image you can see how I use the bookmarklet to easily track the performance on my enter to the personal finance blogging contest from Credit Cards Canada 5 Golden Rules of Money Management – A how-to Guide for Passing the Financial Torch. (By the way, the contest winners will be announced tomorrow, wish me luck).
Tuan from Tek3d left a comment on this post which reminded me that Kevin also created another bookmarklet called RealShare. This one is a simple pop-up that displays the counts for shares and likes on Facebook. You can get the tool from Kevin's post Facebook button count is wrong, use RealShare.
[box type=”important”]Twitter acquired BackType and this bookmarklet hasn't worked since. Try using Who Tweeted Me instead.[/box]
Judge Your Own Social Media Impact
In this post I provide you with some awesome tools to optimize your performance on social media and track the impact across the social web. These tools can help you discover what you're doing right so that you can focus on what gives you the best possible outcomes or ROI (return on investment). Remember it's important for you to take the time to test different apps until you find the social media tools that work best for your given circumstances and goals. I don't use the same apps each time I share on Facebook or send out a Tweet. I'm constantly experimenting and I'm on the lookout for exciting new ways to engage with my readers and you might want to do the same.
What's your favorite Social Media app?
What awesome social media apps or tips are you using to improve brand awareness and audience engagement?