So you think you know Social Media?!

So, you’re using LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. You’ve even posted a few photos to Flikr and a video or two to YouTube.

You may be asking, “What’s beyond these? Are there tools that will help me to get the most from these platforms?” Or perhaps you’ve never even thought of these questions, but you’re still reading. That’s a good place to be. If you’re willing to step through the door, we’ll open a whole other world for you.

Or as Morpheus said in The Matrix: “You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”

Taking the blue pill would be easier. But are you ready to take the red pill?

What if you want to know what people are saying about you, your business, your industry, etc. on social media?  One tool is Social Mention. Enter any key word into their search and get real-time results, including the source such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and more. Through Social Mention receiving daily social media alerts on these same topics of interest is also an option.

If you want more of a social media dashboard, HootSuite and TweetDeck can help you manage and post to multiple social media platforms (LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook), publish to WordPress (with HootSuite), and monitor key words or hashtags related to your business.  In other words these are tools for all of your social media and blogging engagement from a single screen without having to log in to various accounts.  It should be noted that both have mobile applications and that TweetDeck was recently acquired by Twitter.

Similarly, Sprout Social is a platform which is designed specifically to help small businesses better manage social media.  First, updates can be scheduled on a recurring basis.  This feature would be most powerful for restaurants and retail establishments that have weekly specials or announcements.  Second, it’s easy to keep track of the organization’s social media progress and impact with Sprout Social’s use of colorful graphs and charts and to organize Twitter followers with their baseball card-style profiles where you can add notes regarding individual contacts.

Are you still with me or wishing you had chosen the blue pill instead?

Another useful tool is Gist.  Gist is a site to manage all of your contacts from Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and email in one place. With what essentially is a web-based database, you can see your contacts and level of interaction you’ve had with with them. One can also sort based on importance scores and/or social media platform or email.  You may also review news items and blogs associated with this individual and begin to assimilate profile photos or other sources in one place for a given contact. The search function on Gist is also especially powerful.

You may also want to look into location-based services such as Foursquare, Gowalla, or SCVNGR for check-ins or activities.  These mobile applications generally put a new vantage point on restaurants, stores, airports, sports arenas, theaters, colleges- really, anywhere people gather.  They can be used as a way to meet friends, play games, earn discounts, points, or rewards, make discoveries, give or receive recommendations, etc.  While the mobile world is exploding, these types of applications will represent more and more the ways in which people are connecting online and in the real world.

I hope you’re not regretting taking the red pill. If you’ve finished reading this post all the way to the end, you’re already pretty deep into the rabbit hole of social media. Be careful… it’s only going to get deeper in the years ahead.

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