Social Media Productivity: Top 5 Tools for Maintaining Connections AND Your Sanity

“How do you find the time to manage all of this social media stuff?”

That’s one of the most common questions I’m asked whenever I present. And sometimes I get the sense that people are hoping that it’s so complicated and time-consuming that they’ll have a great excuse NOT to do it. Not to learn something new that could transform their business. Not to change their behaviors and actions.

Well, to help you make the mindset shift, I’m finally going to reveal the top 5 tools that I personally use to build a steady presence, enhance my credibility, and engage with my network all in minutes a day. And all of these are free (although some have premium versions with more functionality), and all are easy to use once you set them up:

1) Hootsuite.com: The real key with managing your social media is to have everything in one place when you’re ready to get to work. Hootsuite functions like a dashboard where you can see feeds from all your social media sites and take action. You can schedule posts in advance, retweet others, make comments, and be in and out in 15 minutes. I like to set up columns where I track (i) mentions of my username so I can respond; (ii) mentions of the word “networking” so I can see who’s talking about it and what they’re saying; and (iii) posts from 50-60 key people in my network so I can interact with them more closely.

2) iPhone: I have the Hootsuite app on my phone so if I’m waiting for a train or stuck in traffic in a cab (never in a car when I’m driving!), I can use the downtime productively.

3) Google Reader: One of my primary objectives in using social media is to be seen as a resource, so I frequently post links to articles that others have written. But instead of trolling the Internet for good content, I use Google Reader to bring that content to me! It aggregate articles from about 20 different blogs and websites that have great material, and once a week, I skim the headlines for anything that might be interesting to my followers. Then I share these posts using Timely (see #4).

4) Timely.is: This widget allows you to queue up posts which are then tweeted over time at the frequency you specify — 1 per day, 3 per day, and so on — across your different social media sites. That way I don’t flood my stream with too many posts at once (even though I’m queuing them up in one sitting for maximum efficiency) and I have an ongoing presence online (even though I’m not at my computer all the time). Another option is Buffer, but the free version allows only 10 posts in the queue at any given time.

5) SocialOomph.com: While lots of people use this site to schedule their posts in advance, I use it mainly as a monitoring device, like a Google Alert. Once a day, I get an email of all posts that mention my name or Twitter handle (@liz_lynch) so I can see what’s being said and respond back when necessary. I also monitor the handle @lizlynch, which does not belong to me, but which people sometimes use inadvertently and I can correct them.

6) BONUS TOOL – iTunes: This is a great tip I picked up from the audience during my TweetChat that I couldn’t resist adding to this list. Create a playlist of 2-5 songs that are fun and you enjoy listening to. Run the playlist while you’re doing your social media activities and when it’s over, logout. How simple is that?

The real trick with managing social media successfully, aside from the tools, is to have discipline. Decide when YOU want to engage. Make it an appointment in your calendar so it gets done. Have everything in one place. Get in and get out. In other words, work your social media, don’t let it work you.

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© 2012, Liz Lynch International LLC

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