I get asked a lot about what applications I use to do what I do. So I thought I’d share it with you. All of the applications below are ones that I use on a daily basis and I couldn’t do without. In every case there are alternatives which gives me some comfort given that all of the listed tools here are provided for free:
Social Media Dashboards
This is the one thing I couldn’t do without. Hootsuite is a browser based social media dashboard which aggregates all of your feeds from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, WordPress, Foursquare, MySpace and PingFM.
It allows you to set up columns and pages so you can have easy access to all your lists, hashtags, searches, mentions, messages etc. It also allows you to manage multiple accounts (although the free version only allows 5 of these).
The free version probably does enough for a single community manager but upgrading to the paid version allows for teamworking which is a godsend when managing multiple users on larger social media campaigns.
Leading Alternatives: Tweetdeck, Seesmic
This blog is powered by WordPress. For me it’s the best free blogging application on the net. Setting up a new blog is pretty much idiot-proof and they supply enough free themes to ensure that all of their blogs don’t look the same.
You can also add numerous “widgets” to the side of the page and do interesting stuff like bring in your Twitter feed or display your Flickr photos. I prefer to keep mine simple.
It’s incredibly well supported and they make it easy for you if want to graduate to hosting your own version. There’s also no shortage of WordPress developers these days.
Leading Alternatives: Blogger, Posterous, Tumblr
Media Monitoring Dashboards
NetVibes is great for bringing together a whole bunch of RSS feeds and displaying them as an easily digestible dashboard.
I use it to bring in feeds from across a number applications I use to monitor social media activity. So my Netvibes contains feeds from Socialmention, Topsy, Twitter Search, Google Alerts, Google Blog Search, Google News, Flickr, YouTube and Vimeo.
I have separate dashboards for separate projects but broadly I use the same feeds. This gives me an easily digestible view across a whole range of applications which allows me to keep on top of how my projects are performing in the wild. If I need to get more information to pull together a report then each of the sources is just a click away.
Leading Alternatives: iGoogle, Feedly
This is a great application that will allow you to add some meaning to the contents of a hashtag chat in Twitter. Log in and you can add a description of the hashtag (something that Twitter itself sorely lacks). From there it will show you who has tweeted, what they said and also throws in some handy stats.
The best feature, for me, is the transcript. You can create a transcript from any hashtag at the click of a button. It’s incredibly useful and we use it for the #smclinic.
Leading Alternatives: Twubs, TweetReach
I have issues with pretty much all the twitter analytic tools because you simply can’t boil success in human interaction down to one simple number.
Twitalyzer at least provides lots of different numbers, some of which ARE actually useful. For my monitoring of Twitter accounts, it’s exceptionally useful to see at a glance things like reference ratio, rewteets and reach. These numbers actually tell me something which I can then go and do something about. If I’m not sharing as much other people’s content as I am my own then I can immediately start to do something about it.
Obviously this doesn’t cover other social networks I haven’t found anything that does this even close to well, although Klout have just added Facebook so I’ll be watching that one closely.
Leading Alternatives: Klout
And the rest
I know that this is not comprehensive. It’s simply the toolset that I have settled on (for now). If there are any glaring omissions in my alternatives lists then please let me know. Equally, if there’s some super tool that I’m missing out on then share it in the comments.